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  • European Parliament backs road toll discount for zero-emission trucks 

    The European Parliament today backed a 50% discount on road charges for zero-emission trucks, incentivising cleaner trucking as part of an overhaul of road tolls in Europe. Green NGO Transport & Environment welcomed the reforms of the Eurovignette Directive which would see electric and hydrogen-powered trucks pay half what the best-in-class diesel trucks would pay in distance-based road charges. The vote comes weeks after Germany exempted fossil gas-powered trucks from its Maut toll despite gas trucks emitting as much greenhouse gas and similar air pollutants emissions as diesel ones.[1]

    By 2023 truckers would no longer be able to pay by duration – per day, week, month, etc – to drive unlimited distances, and would instead pay per km. The charges will need to be differentiated based on CO2 emissions. The reforms now require the agreement of EU governments before they can become law.

    Samuel Kenny, freight policy officer at T&E, said: “Distance-based charging makes road transport more efficient, ensures vehicles pay for the road damage they cause, and helps manage road use. A toll structure based on emission levels will be a key pillar of a zero emission transport system, boosting the sales of the cleanest trucks.”

    Today’s vote would also see EU member states determine how much to charge trucks for the vehicle’s air pollution and noise, with minimum charges set down in EU law. Currently there are caps on how much countries can charge. Charging for air pollution and noise would be mandatory from 2021.

    From 2020 vans used for freight transport would also face tolls under the same system as trucks. T&E said this goes some way towards fixing the legislative gap between vans and trucks.

    Samuel Kenny concluded: “Right now it’s illegal for a country to even base tolls on CO2 emissions. Smart tolling means more efficient trucks pay less and zero emission trucks get an additional discount. It has a clear role to play in reducing these emissions. There was overwhelming support for these changes in the European Parliament. Governments must now act to make this possible – and refrain from giveaways for gas which offers no path to decarbonisation and can be even worse for air quality than diesel.”

    Note to editors:

    [1] Transport running on fossil gas is as bad for the climate as diesel, petrol and marine fuel – report