EU countries agreed today on a common approach to cut CO2 emissions from heavy duty vehicles such as buses and trucks by up to 90% by 2040, with capitals now waiting for the European Parliament to set out its position ahead of negotiating the final rules.

The position agreed by Member States maintains the broad lines of the initial proposal put forward by the European Commission last March, with an average emissions cut of 45% for new vehicles in 2030, up from 30% of the current standard, and then 65% in 2035 and 90% in 2040.

“Citizens deserve to live in a greener and healthier environment, and we are now one step closer to this goal. At the same time, we are ensuring the competitiveness of industry by clearing the way for new investments,” said third vice-president and acting Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera in a statement.

The EU, according to its common position, which will still have to be agreed with Parliament in its final version, introduces some flexibility in the implementation of the regulation, such as an exemption for small manufacturers, vehicles used in mining, forestry and agriculture.

They also propose special treatment for vehicles used by the armed forces, fire services, civil protection, public order, medical care and vocational vehicles such as refuse trucks.

Among the modifications incorporated into the EU executive’s proposal, member states modified the definition of “heavy-duty zero emission vehicle” while keeping hydrogen vehicles within it, and proposed a new category to include extra heavy-duty combination trucks to better take into account their characteristics, the Council said.

City buses

One of the most controversial points of the debate at the EU Environment Council was the treatment of intercity buses.

The EU approach sets a zero emission target for 100% of the intercity bus fleet by 2035 and an intermediate target of 85% by 2030, in line with the position advocated by France, which argued that many municipalities have just renewed their fleet and have invested in other forms of CO2 reduction.

The Council agreed to exempt intercity buses from this target and a number of review clauses were added, such as considering national investments already made and possible limitations due to territorial morphology or specific weather conditions in member states.

The capitals want the European Commission to review the regulation in 2027, one year earlier than the EU executive had proposed, and also to analyse the evolution of the recharging infrastructure.

In this review, the Commission will also have to make an assessment of the so-called “carbon correction factor”, which refers to how to calculate what percentage of a vehicle’s mix comes from synthetic fuels and carbon-neutral biofuels, subtracting the result from the CO2 emissions calculated for new diesel trucks and buses.

The measure, criticised by environmental organisations such as Transport and Environment, was opposed by countries such as France and Germany, while Poland and the Czech Republic, along with Slovakia, abstained in the final vote.

Source: EFE verde