Representatives of EU governments have signed off on a deal that will put an end to brick-shaped lorry designs and clear the way for advances in fuel efficiency and safety for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The agreement allows lorrymakers to produce new designs but the truck industry secured a ban until 2022 even though the new designs are voluntary, not mandatory.
Many people tend to see the world in a Manichean way. You’ve got the good guys and the bad guys. That’s as true within the environmental movement as anywhere else. So it is perhaps surprising to see that many environmentalists work together with unusual allies. For example, when it comes to car CO2 standards environmentalists and car drivers have the same interest; cleaner, more efficient cars are good for drivers’ pockets and for the climate. That makes the case for them almost irresistible.
The Danish government has asked EU leaders to consider including transport in the emissions trading system (ETS) when they discuss climate and energy targets at a European Council later this month. Campaigners say such a move would actually be counterproductive to reducing emissions in the sector and do nothing to strengthen the ETS.
The Commission is consulting on whether EU rules on combined transport are working or need updating. Combined transport – which is generally taken to mean freight movements that are largely by rail or water but with the start and end by road – is regulated by an EU directive dating from 1992. It aims to promote combined transport through reducing restrictions, eliminating authorisation procedures, and offering financial support through fiscal incentives for certain combined transport operations.
EU transport ministers will this week decide whether to approve changing the design rules for lorry cabins which will make them safer and more fuel efficient. Last month, governments reached a provisional agreement on the changes but set a delay of eight years before redesigned lorry cabs can be produced in Europe.
New rules for lorry design, which campaigners hope will reduce fuel consumption and emissions and save hundreds of lives, have been accepted almost unanimously by the full European Parliament. For the first time, MEPs also called for the introduction of fuel efficiency standards for lorries. But these proposed rules, which must now be agreed by EU member states, face opposition from national transport ministers seeking to shield some lorry makers from innovation.
Progress towards new design and safety standards for lorries will be jeopardised if the European Commission backtracks on safety requirements, environmental and road safety campaigners fear.
There are concerns for the future of lorry design proposals that would drastically improve road safety, after a vote in the European Parliament was postponed earlier this month. The Transport Committee will not decide until March 18 on the long-awaited rules governing driver visibility, lorry-crash performance and more aerodynamic, emissions-saving design.