The European commission has set out its first ever strategy to tackle CO2 emissions from heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).
Under the proposals, adopted by the commission on Wednesday, trucks, buses and coaches would have improved fuel efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.
HGVs are responsible for a quarter of all road transport emissions in the EU, and while emissions from cars and vans have been reduced due to EU legislation, HGV emissions look set to remain at unsustainable levels unless action is taken.
Climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said, “Today we are taking the next steps to curb emissions from road transport.
“We first regulated cars and vans, and we can now see the results: emissions have been reduced, air pollution in cities is in decline, and more innovative, fuel-efficient vehicles are now available to consumers. That is why we turn now to trucks and buses,” explained the Danish official.
“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,” she said.
The first steps of the strategy will focus on certifying, reporting and monitoring HGV emissions, and will move on to using a computer simulation tool, developed by the commission, to measure CO2 emissions from new vehicles.
Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of the European automobile manufacturers’ association, said, “Fuel efficiency is a top priority for the transport companies who buy and use trucks and buses, because fuel accounts for over one-third of their total operating costs.
“Fuel efficiency is therefore the number one competitive factor in developing and selling heavy-duty vehicles,” he argued.
However, the ACEA also believe that in order to meet environmental targets other measures need to be taken, such as eco-driving training, better infrastructure and the use of alternative fuels.
But, Jonnaert explained, “This system will empower customers to compare and choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle combination adapted to their needs. Customers are the best regulators for fuel efficiency.”
He continued, “As an industry we need to be as close to the real market as possible, rather than showing that we are compliant with an ‘artificial’ framework based on legal targets. Market forces are clearly the best way forward.”
William Todts, senior policy officer at Transport & Environment, said, “Lorry fuel efficiency has remained stagnant for 20 years, but while the US has quickly set standards for American trucks to improve their fuel economy, Europe is just treading water.
“Fuel economy standards will slash fuel bills, reduce oil and diesel imports and cut climate-changing emissions,” he argued.
According to Transport & Environment, improved fuel economy standards for lorries could improve efficiency by 35 per cent, resulting in savings of up to €14,000 per year in fuel bills for hauliers and a considerable improvement in CO2 emissions.
“Fuel economy standards are already delivering lower fuel bills for car and van drivers. It’s time for the commission to stop strategising and finally introduce robust standards for Europe’s lorries as well,” Todts concluded.
Written for theparliamentmagazine.eu