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European Commission proposes 90% emissions reductions for new trucks by 2040

By February 21, 2023 No Comments

As part of the European Green Deal, the European Commission have recently announced a set of new proposals for reducing emissions from the transport sector.

The Commission has proposed new 2030 zero-emissions targets for new city buses and 90% emissions reductions for new trucks by 2040.

Global emissions from the transport sector have been steadily increasing in recent years as the need for human consumption of goods and services continues to grow.

In 2021 as pandemic restrictions were lifted, global CO2 emissions from the transport sector rebounded, growing by 8% to nearly 7.7 Gt CO2. (1)

The transport system in the UK produced 24% of its total GHG emissions in 2020 (despite this being at the height of the Covid pandemic) with approximately 91% of those emissions being generated by domestic transport road vehicles (89 MtCO2e) (2)

The largest contributors to these emissions were cars and taxis, which made up 52% of the emissions from domestic transport (51 MtCO2e) and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) contributed 19% of domestic transport emissions (18.6 MtCO2e) (2)

With UK targets aiming for net-zero by 2050, they have got some way to go before they can make the relevant adjustments to the transport sector to reduce these emissions down to zero.

Despite the UK Government seemingly to be focussing predominantly on electrification as a solution to reducing transport emissions, their direction is not as set in stone as the mass media would have us all believe.

The UK Government ‘Low Carbon Fuels Strategy. Call for ideas’ documents published in February 2022, outlines how over the last 15 years, low carbon fuels (LCFs), supported by policy measures such as the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO), have been one of the main decarbonisation measures in transport. (3)

They include different liquid and gaseous fuels, such as biofuels or renewable hydrogen, which offer carbon savings compared to fossil fuels when looking at their whole life cycle. (3)

As per the UK strategy, the EU’s European Green Deal published in December 2019 calls for a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector with the aim of the EU becoming a climate-neutral economy by 2050. (4)

The EU Green Deal focuses on the adoption of low carbon fuels in all their guises and encourages the uptake of zero and low-emission vehicles, vessels and aeroplanes and the use of renewable and low-carbon fuels in all modes of transport.

This is one of the core priorities of the Green Deal and underpins their objective in their quest to make all transport modes more sustainable.

The road transport sector in the EU represents one fifth of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a main cause of air pollution in cities.

Heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), such as trucks, city buses and long-distance buses, are responsible for more than 25% of GHG emissions from road transport in the EU (over 6% of total EU GHG emissions) and therefore the challenges to reduce emissions now and in the future, especially for Heavy-duty vehicles are a very real dilemma. (4)

In recent years developments in Heavy-duty vehicle technologies have seen HDV/HGV trucks run on such low carbon fuels as biomethane, CNG, biofuels, fuel-cell and in some areas utilising pantograph technologies for the heavy-duty sector.

As part of the European Commission’s proposals announced on 14th February 2023, they have announced that as of 2030 all new city buses will be 100% zero emissions and the phasing in of stronger CO2 emissions standards for almost all new HDVs/HGVs with certified CO2 emissions, compared to 2019 levels, specifically:

45% emissions reductions from 2030;

65% emission reductions from 2035;

90% emissions reduction from 2040. (4)

The Commission have also proposed to install charging and fuelling points at regular intervals on major highways: every 60 kilometres for electric charging and every 150 kilometres for hydrogen refuelling.(4)

The recognition of Hydrogen combustion as a key element to reducing emissions in the heavy-duty sector is a significant shift in the drive towards net-zero and highlights the need for a blended approach to the decarbonisation of the transport sector.

Written and cited by Katy Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2.