EU ministers and Commissioner add to momentum for truck CO2 targets

There is broad support among EU environment ministers for new CO2 standards for trucks and strengthened CO2 standards for cars. A large number of those attending an informal council of transport and environment ministers in Amsterdam last month said the measures would be required to ensure the necessary transition towards a low and zero emission transport sector in 2050 in order to combat climate change, air pollution and ‘green’ Europe’s economy.


Ministers said that the private sector needed to know what the ‘pathways’ in this transition would be in order to be able to invest, according to the meeting conclusions of the Dutch Presidency. Meanwhile perverse incentives that favor combustion engine technologies over zero and low emission technologies would have to be tackled, the conclusions said.

The progress towards an agreement on new and strengthened standards came days before EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said CO2 standards for cars and trucks would be 'essential' to the EU meeting its climate targets’ although a proposal wouldn’t come before 2017.

Commissioner Cañete told the European Parliament’s environment committee that while carbon dioxide targets for cars are in place, the Commission is mulling introducing standards for trucks too. A proposal on monitoring and reporting of truck CO2 emissions to be adopted in 2017 would be a first step. ‘In this context, we’re going to look into the possibility of having specific targets for heavy-duty vehicles,’ he added.

MEPs from four political groups reiterated the need for targets in a letter to EU transport and environment ministers. CO2 standards for cars and vans are ‘one of the most effective policy tools to lower emissions’ they wrote. But they regretted that the EU had not acted to reduce CO2 emissions from trucks and buses – in contrast to the US, Japan and China. They also said that independent and on-road testing must accompany any new policies on clean transport.

William Todts, T&E climate and freight director, said: ‘There’s growing momentum to introduce fuel CO2 standards for trucks. The big question is increasingly whether Commissioner Cañete will indeed act or kick the can down the road, to his successor.  The support of ministers and MEPs should make it easier for him to do the right thing.”

The European Commission is expected to clarify its intentions on how to tackle truck CO2 emissions in its decarbonisation of transport strategy, to be published in June.