European Parliament: TRAN proposes realistic decarbonisation path – IRU

Heavy but fluid traffic on the eight-lane A10 highway in France in the direction of Bordeaux by a hot summer day with cars, vans, trailers, buses and semitrailer truck driving.
IRU welcomes the vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) on new CO₂ standards for heavy-duty vehicles, setting a realistic pace for road transport decarbonisation and preserving essential technology options, which will include battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell and combustion engines based on carbon-neutral fuels or hydrogen, in line with the sector’s needs and calls.

Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed key changes to the CO₂ standards for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), a piece of legislation which will determine the types of buses, coaches and trucks allowed on EU roads by setting progressively increasing zero-emission CO₂ targets that manufacturers will have to meet for new HDV fleets by 2030, 2035 and 2040.

On Tuesday, TRAN, which plays a key role as one of the Parliament’s opinion committees on the file, adopted its report, which brings key improvements to the European Commission’s proposal.

IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “We fully appreciate TRAN members’ pragmatism, who decided to leave all options open for transport operators.”

“As our sector’s home committee, TRAN perfectly understood the essential function of passenger transport and logistics, strategically deciding to boost their sustainability without making them the subject of an experiment,” she added.

Most notably, as recently called for by IRU in a joint letter with automotive suppliers, TRAN amendments embraced technology openness and left adequate space for carbon-neutral fuels as a long-term solution for sustainable HDV transport alongside electrification and hydrogen. TRAN’s amendments make this possible via both the inclusion of a carbon correction factor in the CO₂ legislation and realistic zero-emission targets.

What do TRAN amendments mean for trucks?

For trucks, the target remains 30% for the reporting period 2030–2034, as set by the current legislation. This considers the industry’s concerns that the enabling factors, such as EU-wide deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure (charging and grid connections and capacity) will not be able to accommodate the higher target of 45% proposed by the European Commission. Notably, the target from 2040 onwards has been reduced from 90%, as proposed by the European Commission, to 75%. Essential exemptions are provided for some categories of high-capacity vehicles, large vehicles weighing over 40 tonnes and/or longer than 18.75 metres.

“We share TRAN’s vision that the EU logistics sector needs options post-2040 and that a 10% market share for internal combustion engines pretty much means no market. The 25% space leaves an important door open, particularly to best serve long haul trade corridors, where combustion may well remain an excellent choice for operational efficiency,” highlighted Raluca Marian.

“We are also grateful to Members of the European Parliament from the Nordic EU countries who promoted the very needed exemptions for high-capacity vehicles. While hope and testing is welcome, the current technologies available for zero-emission vehicles are not suitable for operations with large trucks, which can weigh up to 80 tonnes, used to cover vast territories in Northern Europe,” she added.

What do the TRAN amendments mean for buses and coaches?

Regarding buses, TRAN proposes to decrease the 100% target proposed by the European Commission for 2030 to a realistic 80%, which will progressively increase to 100% in line with market and enabling conditions. European cities and regions across the EU have an uneven financial capability and will not have the possibility to unanimously subsidise the enabling conditions and fully shift to electric public transport buses by 2030.

TRAN also recognises the fact that interurban buses should be subject to the targets set for coaches rather than the targets set for urban buses, their mission profiles are more similar, as requested in a joint letter by IRU, UITP and ACEA earlier this year.

The targets for coaches are set below those for trucks, in a welcome recognition of the early stage of development of zero-emission technologies and infrastructure for this type of collective passenger vehicles.

“Just as how trucks are not cars, city buses are not regional buses, and coaches are their own category. We are grateful to TRAN members for their interest in the specificities of our sector and its multiple complex functions, which is reflected in a good pragmatic outcome,” said Raluca Marian.

“We hope that that the pragmatism of the Transport Committee’s opinion and the deep knowledge which supported its position will inspire the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament, the file’s lead committee, and ultimately its plenary, to reach an outcome which truly enables transport decarbonisation,” she concluded.