Europe's first ever truck CO2 standard unveiled along with safety measures

The EU’s first-ever fuel economy standards for new trucks will target a 15% CO2 emissions reductions by 2025, the European Commission has proposed. T&E welcomed the draft law, which will save truck owners €5,000 in reduced fuel bills every year, but added that it falls short of the ambition demanded by hauliers and businesses and what’s needed to hit the EU’s own climate goals.

As well as a 15% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025 compared to 2019 levels, the Commission also proposed an indicative 2030 target of at least -30% – to be reviewed in 2022. Major businesses reliant on trucks like IKEA, Unilever, Carrefour and Nestlé, as well as logistics companies and a group of EU countries had called for the most cost effective fuel savings to be targeted – a 24% reduction by 2025.

Unlike cars and vans, trucks are not yet subject to fuel efficiency standards – despite accounting for 22% of vehicle emissions while making up less than 5% of the vehicles on the road.

T&E’s cleaner trucks officer, Stef Cornelis, said: ‘The proposed fuel economy standards will save truckers money at the pump, cut our dependence on imported oil and slash truck emissions. But the Commission proposal means a lot of cost-effective clean technologies won’t be fitted to new trucks, which will result in truckers and the climate missing out on big savings.’

However, the Commission also proposed supercredits, an accounting trick promoted by the truckmakers’ lobby that undermines the effectiveness of the standard. In would allow zero-emission trucks and buses sold before 2025 to be counted multiple times and truckmakers can accumulate credits towards the 2025 target. This could in practice reduce the ambition of the 2025 target by around a fifth. The Commission also declined to propose a mandatory sales target for zero emission trucks which had been sought by big businesses and hauliers.

Stef Cornelis added: ‘The supercredits accounting trick will undermine truck CO2 targets, deprive businesses of higher fuel savings and reduce, not increase, the number of electric trucks sold. Parliament should get rid of supercredits and introduce a sales target for zero-emission vehicles instead.’

The deployment of slightly longer, more streamlined cab designs would also be accelerated under the Commission plan. New truck designs, which have the potential to cut truck emissions by 3-5% while improving safety and driver comfort, could hit EU roads as early as 2020.

In another safety measure, a direct vision standard, which will help remove deadly blind spots that make pedestrians and cyclists invisible to truck drivers, was also proposed. It would be the world’s first ever direct vision standards for new trucks. 3,850 people died in road accidents involving trucks in Europe in 2014.

However, the plan is to outsource the development of the safety standards to a secretive UN body known as UNECE, which T&E warned is dominated by vehicle makers and risks making the standard meaningless.