EU Targets Heavy-Duty Vehicle Carbon Emissions with New Standards

An aerial photo of a truck stop in Europe with numerous large trucks parked.

(Credit: Unsplash)

by | Jan 22, 2024

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The European Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on carbon dioxide emissions for heavy-duty vehicles, with the aim of reducing emissions in the road transport sector.

The negotiators also aim to introduce new emissions targets for 2030, 2035, and 2040, as part of the EU’s 2030 climate ambitions to reach climate neutrality by 2050. The new proposed standards come as the heavy-duty vehicle sector is responsible for more than 25% of greenhouse gas emissions from road transport in the EU. In addition, carbon emissions standards for these vehicles were set for the first time in 2019, with 2025 and 2029 targets, as well as beyond 2030. Those regulations included a provision for the regulation to be reviewed by 2022.

Namely, the agreement includes regulations to make almost all new heavy-duty vehicles with certified CO2 emissions subject to emission reduction targets. This includes smaller trucks, urban buses, coaches, and trailers. 

However, there are some exceptions to the regulations, including small-volume manufacturers and vehicles used for mining, forestry and agriculture; vehicles for use by armed forces and fire services; and vehicles for use in civil protection, public order, and medical care. Vocational vehicles, such as garbage trucks or concrete mixers, will be affected by the scope of the regulation in 2035.

Rules Have Signifnifcant Emissions Reduction Goals

The new emissions targets in the coming years include emissions reductions of 45% by 2030, 65% by 2035 and 90% by 2040. That’s in addition to the 2025 reduction target of 15%. The targets are applicable to heavy trucks over 7.5 tons and coaches. For trailers, the target is 7.5%, and for semi-trailers, it’s 10%.

Plus, the proposed amendment of the standards introduces a 100% zero-emission target for urban buses by 2035, with an intermediate target of 90% by 2030.

The Council and Parliament adopted their positions on the amended regulation in October and November 2023, respectively, and the provisional agreement will now be submitted to the member states’ representatives within the Council and to the Parliament’s environmental committee for endorsement. If adopted, the proposal will need to be formally approved by both parties and revised by lawyers before being published in the EU’s Official Journal and implemented.

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The proposed amendment also included a review clause, requiring review by the commissions by 2027.

“Among other things, the Commission will also have to evaluate the possibility of developing a common methodology for the assessment and reporting of the full lifecycle CO2 emissions of new HDVs and produce an assessment of the role of a carbon correction factor (CCF) in the transition towards zero-emission mobility in the HDV sector,” the fact sheet stated.
The role of a methodology for registering HDVs exclusively running on CO2-neutral fuels will also be assessed in the review.”

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