EU deal will see roll-out of cleaner public buses, but faster uptake of zero-emission technology is needed
Europe is set to start cleaning up its public buses in the coming decade after EU lawmakers today agreed binding targets for the procurement of zero-emission vehicles by local authorities and public companies. More than 75% of buses are publicly procured, and negotiators agreed that at least a quarter of these will have to be clean buses in 2025, and at least a third in 2030, under the revised Clean Vehicles Directive.
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National public procurement targets for clean buses will range from 24% to 45% in 2025, and from 33% and 66% in 2030 – depending on a country’s population and GDP. Half of these targets will have to be achieved by procuring zero-emission buses, which means that in Germany and Sweden, for example, almost a quarter of new public buses should be zero emissions by 2025. Romania and others will see more gradual growth: almost a fifth of new public buses should be zero emissions by 2030.
Yoann Le Petit, clean vehicles officer at green transport NGO Transport & Environment (T&E), said: “Thanks to this law, we should start to see much more electric buses being rolled out on Europe’s roads. But this directive is the bare minimum and a much faster uptake is needed. For citizens, that means cleaner air, less noise and more comfortable bus journeys. For EU busmakers, such as Solaris and VDL, it brings new market opportunities.”
However, the other half of the targets can be met with so-called ‘clean’ buses which, as defined under the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive, can be powered by fossil fuels such as liquified and compressed natural gas.
Yoann Le Petit concluded: “Counting fossil-fuelled buses as ‘clean’ is not in line with the Paris climate goals or the EU’s aim of decarbonising by 2050. Public money should not be wasted subsidising obsolete gas trucks and buses. By 2030, only zero-emission technologies should be supported with public funds.”
Waste collection trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles procured by public authorities will also have to run cleaner: between 6% and 10% of new trucks in 2025, and 7% and 15% in 2030, will have to be low or zero-emissions. This will complement the move to cleaner trucks expected to result from CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles, which could be finalised this week by EU lawmakers.
Local authorities and public companies will also have to procure cleaner cars and vans: between 18.7% and 38.5% of new light-duty vehicles. These are defined in 2025 as cars or vans emitting less than 50 grams of CO2 per km – as in the revised car CO2 regulation – and, in 2030, as cars and vans with zero emissions.