EU states set binding CO2 limits for trucks and buses


The first European CO2 emission standards for trucks and other heavy commercial vehicles have now been set: the European Council’s formal adoption of the regulation was the final step in the procedure after the EU Parliament had passed the CO2 targets in April.

According to the now-binding regulations, manufacturers must reduce CO2 emissions from new heavy commercial vehicles by an average of 15 per cent from 2025 compared to 2019, and by 30 per cent from 2030. “Such a stepwise approach also provides a clear and early signal for the industry to accelerate the market introduction of energy-efficient technologies and zero-and low-emission heavy-duty vehicles. The deployment of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles should also contribute to addressing urban mobility problems,” the paper states.

Emission-free and low-emission vehicles will be credited several times by 2024, with a factor of 2 applying to emission-free, i.e. fully electric vehicles. By 2025, manufacturers must also ensure that zero-emission or low-emission vehicles account for at least two per cent of all new vehicles sold.

Originally, the EU Parliament had called for more ambitious targets. For example, EU parliamentarians wanted to reduce CO2 levels by 35 per cent by 2030 and by 20 per cent by 2025. However, the member states were not willing or able to achieve this.

The European Council has made it very clear that the guidelines are binding – manufacturers who fail to meet these targets must pay a fine in the form of an excess emissions premium. The Council also iterated a number of times that the measuring and monitoring of CO2 emissions will be robust and transparent. Data will be obtained through on-board devices that monitor the actual fuel and energy consumption of heavy-duty vehicles.

Until now, the EU had only set CO2 targets for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. But as they stressed in their statement, the EU Commission reported that trucks and buses cause about a quarter of CO2 emissions in road transport and about six per cent of all CO2 emissions from all sectors in the EU.

The European Council has also adopted binding targets for the inclusion of zero-emission and low-emission vehicles in the award of public contracts in all Member States. Details of the revised “Clean Vehicles Directive” were leaked in advance. The Directive will now be published in the Official Journal of the EU and will go into force 20 days later. The Member States will then have two years to adopt the relevant national regulations.

From then on, Germany, for example, will be obliged to procure at least 38.5 per cent emission-free vehicles for orders of light commercial vehicles. For heavy commercial vehicles, the figure is 10 per cent (from 2026: 15 per cent), for buses even 45 per cent (from 2026: 65 per cent).

consilium.europa.euconsilium.europa.eu (PDF), consilium.europa.eu (procurement targets)


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