Air pollution from trucks: emergency brake for hgvs

The EU wants to reduce CO2 emissions from truck engines by 30 percent by 2030. Critics believe stricter austerity measures are possible.

Things are supposed to get better by 2030 – but there is still more to be done Photo: dpa

After decades of climate policy ghost driving, trucks in Europe are now also to be given a CO2 cap. By 2025, the engines of trucks and heavy commercial vehicles should emit an average of 15 percent less greenhouse gas for the same power output, and by 20 percent less. That’s what the EU Commission called for on Thursday. "For the first time ever, we are proposing standards for trucks," EU Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in Brussels.

Until now, truck traffic was exempt from all climate rules. That is why CO2 emissions from transport have risen in contrast to other sectors such as industry or the energy industry, and the efficiency of engines has remained virtually unchanged for years: A 40-ton truck still consumes about 30 liters of diesel per 100 kilometers. With the Commission’s proposal, which must now be agreed with EU states and Parliament, the European Union will avoid as much CO2 as Sweden emits, and trucking companies could save about 5,000 euros a year in fuel costs, Canete said.

While the industry had demanded much lower standards, environmental experts want stricter benchmarks: Instead of 15, a good 27 percent more efficiency would be feasible with existing technologies by 2025, according to the environmental organization International Council on Clean Transportation. And by 2030, 43 percent would be achievable.

The limits are part of a major "mobility package" of the EU Commission. In doing so, it aims to make transport "safer, cleaner and more inclusive," as EU Vice President Maroš ŠefCoviC said. The number of 25,300 traffic fatalities per year is to be halved and approach zero by 2050, he said. To achieve this, cars should be equipped with automatic braking systems or lane assist systems on a mandatory basis.

Air quality would also have to improve, which is why six countries, including Germany, are being taken to the European Court of Justice. In addition, the EU Commission wants to boost European battery production for e-cars and is holding out the prospect of 450 million euros in research funding for this.