EU countries urge bloc to set end date for new CO2-emitting trucks

Image credit: Pailton Engineering

The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Luxembourg have urged the European Union to fix a date by which new trucks and buses sold in Europe must have zero carbon dioxide emissions.

The European Commission is set to propose tougher CO2 standards next month for heavy goods vehicles to comply with the bloc's climate change goals.

It has already set more ambitious targets for cars, including a 2035 deadline for all new cars sold in Europe to have zero CO2 emissions.

Next month's EU proposal should set a 100 per cent zero-emissions target for heavy duty vehicles, the four countries said. They did not specify a target date, but said it must comply with the EU's goal to have zero net greenhouse gas emissions across its economy by 2050.

"The upcoming revision of the CO2 standards for HDVs [heavy duty vehicles] provides a unique opportunity to send a strong signal to the market and incentivise a timely transition," the countries said in a joint document, published today (Friday).

The four nations also called for a stronger 2030 emissions target for trucks and buses, adding that CO2 limits should be expanded to cover more road freight vehicles, given that around 35 per cent of the sector's emissions are not in the EU's existing CO2 standards.

Transport accounts for nearly a quarter of EU emissions and has bucked the EU's overall trend of falling CO2 output over the past three decades, threatening its target to cut the bloc's net emissions by 55 per cent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Growing demand for freight transport raised CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles each year from 2014 until the Covid-19 pandemic brought a temporary reduction in 2020, the EU environment agency said.

Next month's proposal will replace the bloc's current requirement for manufacturers to ensure their new truck fleets emit 30 per cent less CO2 in 2030 than in 2019-2020 – a goal designed to nudge the sector towards electric or hydrogen-powered engines instead of fossil fuels.

The European Commission is on a drive to turn the region into the “home of clean tech and innovation”. It was announced this week that the EU is preparing a new law to this effect, the ‘Net Zero Industry Act’.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, announced the plans during her speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The plan would provide financial support to the bloc’s green industries through state aid as well as a European Sovereignty Fund. Its goal is to keep the sector competitive in the face of the technological dominance of the US and China.

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