European Parliament approves tough emission standards for trucks and buses

Following today’s (21 November 2023) vote by the European Parliament, Europe is adopting some of the world’s most ambitious carbon dioxide(CO2) emission standards for heavy goods vehicles and buses. The move marks a major milestone in efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change.

Let’s take a closer look at the key points of this decision and what is happening in the EP:

1️⃣ Extension of the list of vehicles affected by the changes: In addition to trucks and buses, the new standards will now also include all special-purpose vehicles, such as refuse trucks or concrete mixers, as well as small trucks weighing up to 5 tonnes, which were not included in the original proposal.

2️⃣ CO2 reduction targets: The main targets remain unchanged: new trucks and buses must be 43% more CO2 efficient by 2030, 64% more efficient by 2035 and 90% more efficient by 2040. This target represents both a significant challenge for manufacturers and an impetus for technology innovation.

3️⃣ Bus targets: The specification of the targets for buses remains unchanged. All new urban buses must be 100% emission-free by 2030. However, intercity buses have been exempted from this target and placed in the same category with trucks. The exemption for buses powered by biomethane will be in place until 2035.

In the European Parliament debate, which was followed directly in Brussels by our seconded associate Boris Bukovsky, the most discussed point was the proposal to introduce a so-called Carbon Correction Factor (CCF), which would allow the proportion of alternative fuels used during vehicle operation to count towards truck manufacturers’ targets. Critics of the CCF argued that it would mean the end of manufacturers’ control, with significant power going to fuel suppliers. In contrast, CCF supporters argued that such a solution was necessary for a technology-neutral approach. In the end, however, the proposal to introduce a CCF was rejected.

Now the whole process will move to the ‘trilogue’ phase, in which the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission will jointly seek a compromise between their positions.

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