Environment

Cutting CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles

07/08/2014

The Commission has set out a strategy to curb fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from trucks, buses and coaches.

Road transport is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, accountable for around one-fifth of CO2 emissions in Europe. Trucks, buses and coaches contribute about a quarter of these. In May 2014, the European Commission unveiled a new strategy to curb fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), as part of the EU objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transport by 60 % by 2050.

Exhaust gas and particulate matter (PM) emissions from HDVs have been controlled since the early 1990s, with regulations progressively upgraded. However, this did not include carbon dioxide emissions: so far, the major obstacle to limiting CO2 from HDVs has been a lack of knowledge or reliable monitoring tools.

"This strategy outlines new measures which over time will cut CO2 emissions of these vehicles, save operators money and make the EU less dependent on imported oil."

Unlike cars, which roll off production lines in large numbers, HDVs are customised for transporters’ needs. Each vehicle may be different, making the measurement of emissions difficult. Manufacturers have some data, but it is not comparable, so the exact level of HDV CO2 emissions is unknown.

Welcoming the new strategy, Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: “We first regulated cars’ and vans’ CO2 emissions, and we can now see the results: emissions have been reduced and more innovative, fuel-efficient vehicles are now available to consumers. That is why we turn now to trucks and buses. This strategy outlines new measures which over time make it possible to cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of these vehicles, save operators money and make the EU less dependent on imported oil.”

Simulation tool

In consultation with manufacturers, the European Commission has developed a computer simulation tool called VECTO, designed to calculate emissions on the basis of vehicle specifications.

Simulation-based CO2 certification will be able to address the diversity of the HDV fleet. Once this comes into force, monitoring and reporting of these emissions will start, paving the way for increased transparency and competition in the market and possible future measures to curb emissions. The on-road testing of new HDVs would be cumbersome and costly, so manufacturers have welcomed the simulation-based approach.

Measuring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) are the priorities in the short term to close the knowledge gap and create a reliable baseline. In the medium term, the Commission will assess further measures such as setting mandatory CO2 limits for new HDVs, or introducing market-based mechanisms.

 

Climate action