Parliament backs EU’s overly ambitious new heavy-duty vehicle CO₂ targets


Despite a last-minute push for technology neutrality, the European Parliament’s plenary vote on CO₂ emission standards for new heavy-duty vehicles fails to recognise other solutions that can play a role in decarbonising the commercial road transport sector.

The European Parliament has given its final nod to the provisional agreement – reached by the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament in January – on CO₂ standards for new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs). The vote follows discussions and prior endorsement of the agreement by the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety in February.

While the legislation marks a significant step towards reducing CO₂ emissions from HDVs, proposed amendments to introduce the definition of carbon-neutral fuels and establish a methodology for registering vehicles powered exclusively by such fuels were not adopted. These amendments aimed to account for vehicles running on carbon-neutral fuels, marking a crucial step forward in the decarbonisation of road transport.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “It is disappointing that the final text falls short of recognising technology neutrality and a wide range of alternative fuels which would enable the road transport sector to decarbonise effectively. The EU’s mobility and logistics sector needs a wide range of technology options to suit its diverse operational requirements.”

IRU welcomes, however, the statement made by the European Commission prior to the vote. The Commission committed to setting a methodology for registering vehicles running exclusively on CO₂-neutral fuels. The methodology is expected to be presented a year after the regulation enters into force.

Another positive development is the inclusion of an earlier and more comprehensive review clause, which is vital for adjusting the legislation in the future, ensuring that it can evolve to better support the road transport industry’s transition to carbon neutrality.

“Overall, the deal remains a mixed bag for the commercial road transport sector. Yesterday’s vote demonstrates the importance of the earlier and more comprehensive review clause. However, now that the CO₂ standards are set, legislators must focus on approving the necessary incentives, particularly with regards to weights and dimensions, to encourage market uptake,” concluded Raluca Marian.

The next step in the legislative process is formal approval by the Council before the act’s official publication.

IRU remains committed to supporting a more inclusive approach to emission standards, one that recognises the full spectrum of technologies available for decarbonising heavy-duty vehicles.