Leading EU committee supports near phase-out of diesel trucks

Leading EU committee supports near phase-out of diesel trucks

Transport & Environment — 2023-10-24

News from Brussels

The EU Parliament environment committee has backed the European Commission’s plans to slash emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. MEPs voted for targets to cut the average emissions of new freight trucks by 45% in 2030 and 90% in 2040. For 2035 they called for a 70% target, higher than the 65% proposed by the Commission. They also said the standards should be extended to cover the 20% of heavy-duty vehicle sales which the Commission has proposed to exempt, such as garbage and construction trucks and small trucks driving in our cities.

Fedor Unterlohner, freight manager at T&E, said: “MEPs have doubled down on the Environment Ministers’ support for the draft targets, except they don’t want a fifth of polluting trucks to escape regulation. A broad consensus is clearly emerging between lawmakers that these targets are the minimum needed for the truck sector to decarbonise.”

The MEPs said trailer manufacturers should improve the emissions performance of truck trailers by 12.5% in 2030 – a slightly weaker target than proposed by the Commission. A separate target for trailers helps reduce the energy required to pull the trailer, ensuring zero-emission trucks can drive even further.

The environment committee followed the Commission and Environment Ministers in rejecting loopholes for trucks running on e-fuels and biofuels. Most biofuels are unsustainable and e-fuels are needed for sectors with no other options to decarbonise such as aviation and shipping. Synthetic fuels would increase the total cost of ownership (TCO) of trucks by as much as 50%, even when produced in the most optimistic conditions. These fuels also still emit toxic air pollutants harmful to human health.

Fedor Unterlohner said: “Lawmakers have again rejected the oil industry’s attempts to waterdown the truck climate targets. A loophole for biofuels and e-fuels would ensure as many fossil powered trucks as possible enter the fleet over the coming decades and keep up demand for fossil fuels. We call on the Parliament plenary to keep the door closed to these Frankenstein fuels.”

The EU Parliament will decide its position on the CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles when it meets in plenary on 21 or 22 November.

EDIT: Corrected to reflect that trailer manufacturers, not truckmakers, would be required to improve the emissions performance of truck trailers.