New CO2 targets aim to 'phase-out' diesel trucks by 2040

The EU has agreed on stringent CO2 emission targets for heavy-duty vehicles, aiming for a near phase-out of diesel trucks by 2040.

In brief:
  • New CO2 targets set for heavy-duty vehicles, including a 90% reduction by 2040, to phase out diesel trucks.
  • Targets expanded to cover buses, trailers, and vocational vehicles like garbage and construction trucks.
  • Agreement aims to boost zero-emission vehicle production, challenging European manufacturers to compete globally.
In detail:

The European Union has taken a significant step towards reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector, with lawmakers reaching a deal to set ambitious targets for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). This agreement, part of the EU's broader climate goals, aims to phase out almost all new diesel truck sales by 2040.

Under the new directive, manufacturers will have to cut the average emissions of new trucks by 45% in 2030, 65% in 2035, and 90% in 2040. This move is expected to encourage the production and adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), such as electric and hydrogen trucks, across the EU.

The scope of the regulation has been expanded to include not only heavy trucks but also buses, trailers, and vocational vehicles like garbage and construction trucks. From 2035, these vehicles will also be subject to the CO2 targets. The agreement also introduces a 100% zero-emission target for urban buses by 2035, with an intermediate target of 90% by 2030.

Fedor Unterlohner, freight manager at Transport & Environment (T&E), highlighted the significance of the deal, stating, "The EU is clearly telling truck makers when almost all their vehicles will need to be zero emissions." He emphasised the importance of this directive in providing European producers with the planning certainty needed to ramp up production of electric and hydrogen rigs, thereby competing with foreign electric truck makers like Tesla and Chinese rivals.

The directive also addresses the issue of trailers, requiring manufacturers to improve the emissions performance of truck trailers by 10% in 2030. However, this target is weaker than what was initially proposed by the Commission.

T&E estimates that the EU targets will result in around 30% of trucks sold in 2030, and at least three-quarters in 2040, being zero emissions. This transition is crucial as heavy-duty vehicles are the second biggest transport polluter in Europe after cars.

The agreement reflects a balanced approach to tackling environmental concerns while providing long-term investment certainty to manufacturers and the freight industry. As Europe moves towards its goal of climate neutrality by 2050, this directive marks a pivotal step in transforming one of its major polluting sectors.

The provisional agreement will now be submitted to the member states’ representatives within the Council and the Parliament’s environment committee for endorsement. Following formal adoption by both institutions, the directive will be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force.

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