The European Commission has proposed ambitious new CO2 emissions targets for new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) from 2030 onwards. These targets will help to reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector – trucks, city buses, and long-distance buses are responsible for over 6% of total EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissionsand more than 25% of GHG emissions from road transport.
These strengthened emissions standards would ensure that this segment of the road transport sector contributes to the shift to zero-emissions mobility and the EU’s climate and zero pollution objectives.
The Commission proposes phasing in stronger CO2 emissions standards for almost all new HDVs with certified CO2 emissions, compared to 2019 levels, specifically:
- 45% emissions reductions from 2030;
- 65% emission reductions from 2035;
- 90% emissions reduction from 2040.
To stimulate faster deployment of zero-emission buses in cities, the Commission also proposes to make all new city buses zero-emission as of 2030.
In line with the European Green Deal and REPowerEU objectives, this proposal will also have a positive impact on the energy transition, by lowering demand for imported fossil fuels and enhancing energy savings and efficiencies in the EU’s transport sector. It will provide benefits for European transport operators and users by reducing fuel costs and total cost of ownership, and ensure a wider deployment of more energy-efficient vehicles. It will also improve air quality, notably in cities, and the health of Europeans.
Moreover, this is a key sector to support the European clean tech industry and boost international competitiveness. The EU is a market leader in the production of trucks and buses and a common legal framework helps to secure that position for the future. In particular, the revised standards provide a clear and long-term signal to guide EU industry investments in innovative zero-emission technologies and boost the rollout of recharging and refuelling infrastructure.
Emissions in the HDV sector have been increasing year-on-year since 2014 with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially in the freight sector, emissions are increasing rapidly. This is mainly due to growing road transport demand, which is expected to keep rising in the future. In 2019, freight emissions were 44% higher than emissions from the aviation sector and 37% higher than maritime transport emissions.
The vast majority of heavy-duty vehicles in the EU fleet (99%) currently run on internal combustion engines, fuelled largely by imported fossil fuels such as diesel. This adds to the EU’s energy dependency and current volatility of the energy market.
The current HDV emissions standards date from 2019, but are no longer in line with the EU’s climate objectives. Existing legislation does not provide a sufficiently clear and long-term signal to investors and does not reflect the new reality in the energy sector and the rapid developments in the HDV industry globally. The proposed new CO2 standards are in line with the EU’s increased climate ambitions, the Fit for 55 package and the Paris Agreement.
To support this proposal, investments need to be channelled into zero-emission vehicles and into the recharging and refuelling infrastructure, and the Commission has already proposed the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation to develop the necessary charging infrastructure to support the green transition of the heavy duty vehicles sector. In particular, the Commission proposed to install charging and fuelling points at regular intervals on major highways: every 60 kilometres for electric charging and every 150 kilometres for hydrogen refuelling. The Commission is working intensively with the co-legislators to finalise the negotiations on these proposals.