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Reducing CO2 emissions from Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Trucks, buses and coaches produce about a quarter of CO2 emissions from road transport in the EU and some 5% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions – a greater share than international aviation or shipping. The European Commission has therefore set out a strategy to curb CO2 emissions from these Heavy-Duty Vehicles (HDVs) over the coming years.

 

Little change in future emissions without action

Despite some improvements in fuel efficiency, CO2 emissions from HDVs rose by some 36% between 1990 and 2010, mainly due to increasing road freight traffic. Projections indicate that, without policy action, total HDV emissions would still be close to current levels in 2030 and 2050.

This is clearly incompatible with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport by around 60% below 1990 levels by 2050. This objective was set out in the Commission’s 2011 Transport White Paper and Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050.

Truck

Short-term action focuses on measurement and reporting

While CO2 emissions from new cars and vans are being successfully reduced under recent EU legislation, the HDV strategy, adopted in May 2014, is the EU’s first initiative to tackle such emissions from trucks, buses and coaches.

Despite the economic importance of fuel consumption, CO2 emissions from HDVs are currently neither measured nor reported. The strategy therefore focuses on short-term action to certify, report and monitor HDV emissions - an essential first step towards curbing them.

The Commission has developed a computer simulation tool, VECTO, to measure CO2 emissions from new vehicles. With the support of this tool the Commission intends in 2015 to propose legislation which would require CO2 emissions from new HDVs to be certified, reported and monitored.

This will contribute to a more transparent and competitive market and the adoption of the most energy-efficient technologies.

Further measures possible in medium term

When this legislation is in force the Commission may consider further measures to curb CO2 emissions from HDVs. The most apparent option is to set mandatory limits on average CO2 emissions from newly-registered HDVs, as is already done for cars and vans.

Other measures could include the development of modern infrastructure supporting alternative fuels for HDVs, smarter pricing on infrastructure usage, effective and coherent use of vehicle taxation by Member States and other market-based mechanisms. An impact assessment will be done to identify the most cost-effective option or options.

Studies carried out while preparing the strategy suggest that state-of-the art technologies can achieve cost-effective reductions of at least 30% in CO2 emissions from new HDVs.