European Parliament ENVI Committee sends a strong signal with vote on HDV CO2 standards

Date: 24, October 2018
The CO2 reduction discussions goes on and with last week’s vote, MEPs have sent a strong signal to the Commission, the industry and its stakeholders after they adopted MEP Bas Eickhout’s report on HDV CO2 standards with 47 votes for and 6 against.

HDV CO2 standards has been a hot topic in the European Parliament for quite some time, and on October 18ththe European Parliament voted for the first ever HDV CO2 standards with a very clear message: increased ambitions. According to the Commission, the CO2 emissions from trucks account for one quarter of road transport emissions, or 6% of the total EU CO2 emissions. The Commission has developed the VECTO system for simulating the CO2 emission from HDVs and the Council and Parliament have already adopted rules on monitoring and reporting of CO2 in road transport. These data are now being used for developing CO2 standards for new HDVs for the purpose of setting stronger and stronger requirements to reduce emissions. The Commission’s proposal sets targets for 15% CO2 reduction by 2025 on the 2019 levels and at least 25% reduction by 2030. The European Parliament raised the ambition level to 20% target for 2025 and 35% target (or higher) for 2030. And with 47 for and 6 against, the raised ambition level by the European Parliament is a very clear message and statement emphasizing the importance of action to fulfill the Paris agreement.

In line with last week’s newsletter about Carbon Correction Factor, there are multiple ways to reduce CO2 emissions. One thing – the easiest but not necessarily most efficient – is to reduce tailpipe CO2 emissions. But another important method in order to reduce CO2, is to have a system that can also take into consideration and recognize the role of low-carbon and gaseous fuels as with the Carbon Correction Factor as explained last week. The Carbon Correction Factor would allow to take this use of alternative fuels into account. Regrettably, the Parliament Committee rejected this idea and the adopted text does not allow for counting use of alternative fuels such as biofuels. 

However, the Parliament did adopt a revised super-credit system intending to reward those manufacturers who will invest more in innovative technologies. The super-credit system is intended allowing vehicles which are low- and zero-emission at tailpipe to count higher towards the achievement of targets by the manufacturers. What the Parliament Committee adopted is a target for these types of vehicles, at 5% of total fleet increasing to 20% of total fleet in 2030 “There is a risk that this will shift focus to smaller electronic and hybrid vehicles and their development. As most of the trucks on the road are meant for medium and long-distance transport, it’s very important that these are also taken into consideration and not only the urban transport where electronic- and hybrid-technology might prove successful” – comments CEO of NLA, Soren Larsen. “For operators it is not good if the standard legislation ends up only producing more fuel-efficient smaller vehicles”.

NLA welcomes other elements of the text from the Committee, not least the focus on an evaluation of a life-cycle approach in 2022 and recognition of the need to update the VECTO system. CO2 standards are important, and they are welcomed by the NLA, but they must not stand alone as a single initiative in reducing CO2. Operators in the Nordic countries are concerned that our way of operating is not fully incorporated in the proposals. In the Nordic countries, High-Capacity-Vehicles have proven successful as they can take more load and thereby also contribute to logistics efficiency, leading to more tons being transported by less fuel. However, these vehicle types do not seem to be credited by the proposal or the vote in the Committee, which rejected proposals for solving this problem. Also, advanced bio-fuels such as HVO are used in the Nordic countries, but these are not really taken into consideration either, which leaves NLA in doubt in which way the new initiatives from the Commission will have impact in the Nordic countries.