Environment ministers today backed CO2 targets for trucks proposed by the EU Commission. Manufacturers will have to cut the average emissions of new freight trucks by 45% in 2030, 65% in 2035 and 90% in 2040. But green group Transport & Environment (T&E) urged the European Parliament to increase the 2030 target so that European truckmakers are ready to compete with foreign rivals entering the EU market.

truck cartel

Fedor Unterlohner, freight manager at T&E, said: “The EU has taken an important step towards greener trucking. By supporting the Commission’s targets, governments have set the minimum standard for the sector to decarbonise. We now call on MEPs to increase the 2030 standard. Truckmakers need a clear signal to go all in on zero-emission trucks and compete with Tesla and Chinese rivals.”

T&E welcomed the ministers’ rejection of loopholes for e-fuels and biofuels, which cannot decarbonise the sector as they are either unsustainable or needed for sectors with no other options such as aviation and shipping. T&E said that for hauliers and shippers, using e-fuels would increase the total cost of owning a truck by as much as 50%, even when produced in the most optimistic conditions. Unlike battery electric trucks, these fuels also still emit toxic air pollutants harmful to human health.

Fedor Unterlohner said: “The oil and gas industry has lobbied hard for biofuels and e-fuels to ensure as many fossil powered trucks as possible enter the fleet over the coming decades and keep up demand for fossil fuels. We call on the European Parliament to join the Council in saying no to these Frankenstein fuels which are a desperate attempt by the oil majors to keep combustion engines alive.”

T&E criticised the environment ministers’ decision to exempt from the targets some types of heavy-duty vehicles such as garbage trucks, construction trucks, and small trucks driving in our cities. T&E called on MEPs to tighten the exemption which, in its current form, would lead to about 20% of heavy-duty vehicle sales escaping climate targets.

The European Parliament’s environment committee will decide its position on the truck CO2 standards on 24 October.