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Since being named as the new Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen has said ‘protecting our planet and our shared environment is our generation’s defining task.’ Yet emissions from the transport sector in general and road transport in particular are still rising, and holding back progress towards cutting Europe’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Traditionally, the Commission has set CO2 emissions limits which car, van and truck makers have to meet; it has never set binding sales targets for clean trucks, yet that is the demand from the signatories, among them Unilever, German retail giant REWE, drinks company AB InBev, and Nestlé. Specifically, the letter demands: ‘ambitious’ binding sales targets for vehicle makers for zero-emission vans and urban and regional trucks in 2025 and 2030; and a specific European investment fund dedicated to support the installation of charging infrastructure for electric vans and trucks.
The companies and groups say that, despite the growing demand for more zero-emission freight vehicles, the current supply in Europe is ‘nearly non-existent’, forcing them to build their own vehicles or initiate own pilot projects. ‘We now strongly believe that the European Green Deal is a unique opportunity for the new European Commission to overcome this lack of supply by incentivising vehicle-makers to finally provide the vehicles that we are calling for.’
T&E’s clean trucks manager Stef Cornelis said: ‘The new Commission cannot deliver on their promises without cleaning up the road freight sector. Given the major brands and transport industry players signing this letter, it’s clear the will exists within industry to decarbonise road transport. This is a golden opportunity for the EU – it has industry pushing it in the right direction, so the new Commission must provide the right incentives to finally get the supply of e-trucks and e-vans to acceptable levels. It should follow other regions like California and introduce these targets without any delay.’
Transport emissions now represent 27% of the EU’s total climate changing emissions. Within road transport, heavy goods vehicles account for 22% of CO2 emissions while vans make up a further 12%.