• Four countries back truck CO2 limits, as lorries rival cars in share of emissions

    Four EU countries have called for mandatory fuel economy standards for trucks, documents reveal – as new research by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) projects heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) will almost overtake cars as the biggest source of road transport emissions by 2030. CO2 emissions are directly related to the fuel economy of internal-combustion vehicles, with more fuel-efficient vehicles emitting less greenhouse gas.

    Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the UK told the European Commission in June that limits on lorry CO2 emissions were required if the EU is to meet its 2030 climate targets. [1] Last week, the European Parliament echoed this demand in a plenary vote,[2] while Germany’s Federal Environment Agency also called for lorry CO2 reduction targets last month.

    The news comes as projections show lorries and buses will account for 41% of road transport’s climate emissions by 2030, rivalling cars’ share of 47% due to EU efficiency targets for passenger vehicles. The HDV figures, based on the EU’s own reference scenario and analysed by T&E, show that trucks and buses currently make up less than 5% of vehicles on the road, but emit 30% of road transport’s CO2 emissions. (See infographic)

    Carlos Calvo Ambel, policy analyst at T&E, said: “After 20 years of no progress on fuel economy and an on-going cartel investigation, time’s up for Europe’s truckmakers. They simply won’t deliver the more fuel-efficient trucks we need. It’s time for the Commission to follow the American and Japanese example and introduce fuel efficiency standards.”

    Lorry emissions have risen sharply in recent decades – 36% between 1990 and 2010, despite the 2008 economic crisis – due to their high mileage and huge fuel consumption. Improvements in European lorry fuel efficiency have been nearly stagnant since the 1970s. Meanwhile last year the EU began investigating lorry manufacturers for operating a cartel that “agreed the timing and price increase levels for the introduction of new emission technologies”.

    Pressure has been building on the EU to act on lorry fuel efficiency standards since the US Environmental Protection Agency in June proposed a new 24% target for improvement in truck fuel economy by 2027, on top of limits introduced in 2011. It would see US trucks, which now average 33-36 litres per 100km, overtake Europe’s in the early 2020s and average less than 26.7l/100km by 2027. [3]

    Carlos Calvo Ambel concluded: “The world needs EU leadership. Forty percent of trucks worldwide are produced by EU truckmakers and EU regulation sets the pace in much of the world. The Commission’s lack of action on truck CO2 is not just an environmental problem, it puts our technological and regulatory leadership at risk.”

    European manufacturers have a leading position on the global truck market, accounting for over 40% of total global production.

    Notes to editor:

    [1] The countries made submissions on cutting CO2 emissions from non-ETS sectors as part of the European Commission’s consultation on meeting the EU’s 2030 GHG reduction targets. The Netherlands’ submission calls for ‘an ambitious CO2 target for vehicles’ while not specifying lorries.

    [2] European Parliament resolution of 9 September, 2015 on the implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport, page 16. https://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TA+P…

    [3] T&E explanatory note, Comparing US and EU truck fuel economy https://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/explanatory-note-compar…