EU Parliament approves law to slash trucks’ carbon footprint

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 12:18 PM

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to pass a law to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from trucks, which will require most new heavy-duty vehicles sold in the EU from 2040 to be emissions-free.

The law will enforce a 90% cut in CO2 emissions from new heavy-duty vehicles by 2040 – meaning that manufacturers will have to sell a large share of fully CO2-free trucks, to offset any remaining sales of new CO2-emitting vehicles.

“We are providing clarity for one of the major manufacturing industries in Europe and a strong incentive to invest in electrification and hydrogen,” said Green European Union lawmaker Bas Eickhout, Parliament’s lead negotiator on the policy.

To attempt to pull the transport sector in line with climate change targets, truck manufacturers will also have to reduce the CO2 emissions of their fleets 45% by 2030 and 65% by 2035.

New urban buses must be zero-emission by 2035.

The policy passed despite opposition from centre-right lawmakers who had wanted it to allow more combustion engine trucks to be sold beyond 2040, if they ran on CO2 neutral fuels.

“Today is a bad day for Europe as an industrial location. This law does not include a guarantee that vehicles running on CO2 neutral fuels can be registered in the future,” said Jens Gieseke, a German lawmaker from the European People’s Party.

Europe’s automotive industry giant Germany had made similar complaints. The policy still needs final approval from EU countries – a step that is, usually, a formality and approves a law with no changes.

To win Germany’s backing, EU countries already added a preamble to the law which said the European Commission would consider developing rules in future to count trucks running on CO2 neutral fuels towards the targets.

Most trucks on Europe’s roads currently run on diesel.

Climate-neutral fuels like e-kerosene or e-methanol are made by synthesizing captured CO2 emissions and hydrogen. They can be used in existing combustion engine vehicles, but remain hardly used today and are far more expensive than conventional CO2-emitting fuels.

(Reporting by Kate Abnett, Editing by William Maclean)