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Stricter CO2 Emission Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles Adopted by EU Council

Stricter CO2 Emission Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles Adopted by EU Council

The EU Council has formally adopted new, stringent CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles, amending and strengthening existing regulations. This marks a significant step towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from road transport and aligning with the EU’s broader climate objectives.

New CO2 Emission Reduction Targets Set for 2030, 2035, and 2040

The updated regulation introduces ambitious CO2 emission reduction targets for heavy-duty vehicles, encompassing trucks, urban buses, coaches, and trailers.

Key targets include:

  • A 45% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, up from the previous 30%.

  • A 65% reduction by 2035.

  • A 90% reduction by 2040.

These targets will apply to medium lorries, heavy trucks weighing over 7.5 tons, and coaches. From 2035 onwards, they will also cover vocational vehicles, such as garbage trucks and concrete mixers.

Zero-Emission Goal for Urban Buses

One of the most notable changes is the introduction of a 100% zero-emission target for new urban buses by 2035, with an interim goal of 90% by 2030. Interurban buses will be classified as coaches for emissions measurement and will not be subject to the zero-emission requirement.

Broader Scope and Exemptions

The revised rules expand the scope to include almost all new heavy-duty vehicles with certified CO2 emissions. Smaller trucks, urban buses, coaches, and trailers will now be subject to emission reduction targets.

However, exemptions remain for small-volume manufacturers and vehicles used in specific sectors such as mining, forestry, agriculture, and emergency services.

Background and Context

The heavy-duty vehicle sector contributes over 25% of greenhouse gas emissions from road transport in the EU. The original CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles were established in 2019, targeting reductions for 2025 to 2029 and setting goals for 2030 onwards.

These standards are part of the EU's "Fit for 55" strategy, aimed at reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Legislative Journey and Next Steps

The adoption of these stricter standards follows a proposal by the European Commission in February 2023, which was part of the broader Fit for 55 legislative package. The new regulation, having passed through the European Parliament and the Council, will be published in the Official Journal of the EU and will enter into force 20 days after publication.

In 2027, the European Commission will review the effectiveness and impact of the amended regulation. This review will include evaluating the possibility of developing a common methodology for assessing and reporting the full lifecycle CO2 emissions of new heavy-duty vehicles.

Ensuring Competitiveness and Innovation

The updated vehicle emission standards aim to increase the share of zero-emission vehicles in the heavy-duty vehicle fleet across the EU while preserving and enhancing competitiveness and innovation within the sector. This regulation is expected to drive investment in zero-emission technologies and the development of recharging and refueling infrastructure, essential for the transition to a more sustainable road transport system.

By setting these new standards, the EU reaffirms its commitment to combating climate change and promoting sustainable development in the heavy-duty vehicle sector. This move is a critical milestone in the journey towards a greener and more resilient transport system in Europe.

Impact of New Vehicle Emission Standards on the Transport Sector

The EU Council's adoption of stricter CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles represents a pivotal development in the EU’s climate policy. By setting ambitious reduction targets and expanding the scope of the regulation, the EU is paving the way for a significant decrease in vehicle emissions.

As the new rules take effect, they will play a crucial role in achieving the EU's climate goals and fostering a sustainable future for road transport.


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