Dutch call for ‘high’ emissions standards on trucks, cars

The Netherlands have called on Europe to aim high on emissions standards for trucks and cars, ahead of a much-anticipated proposal from the European Commission today (17 May), which will impose CO2 targets on trucks for the first time.

The Dutch state secretary for infrastructure, Stientje van Veldhoven, was disappointed with the car emissions proposal that the Commission presented in November last year, saying she hopes Brussels will do better this time.

“When it comes to cars we could really have done better,” she told EURACTIV in an interview, saying it all comes back to the Paris Agreement which aims to keep global temperature rise within 1.5°C, aiming for 2°C maximum.

“If you aim for 1.5°C, it means we in the Netherlands have to reduce our emissions by 55%” compared to 1990. “If that’s your goal, then you need to take measures throughout the whole economy”.

“And all sectors need to contribute, including transport.”

Truck industry braces for their first CO2 limits in Europe

The automotive industry is warning that an EU proposal set to be adopted on Wednesday (16 May) does not give enough lead time before limits will be required. But the US and China have had limits in place for several years.

Five EU countries call for high ambition

The Netherlands are not alone in calling for high emission standards on trucks. Earlier this month, France adopted a position paper asking for “ambitious objectives to be fixed for 2025, 2030 and 2050 in order to expand efforts to decarbonise transport.”

Together with three other EU countries – Ireland, Lithuania, and Luxembourg – the Netherlands sent a letter to the Commission earlier this month, calling for a CO2 target for trucks of at least 24% for 2025 and 35-45% for 2030.

But the latest draft of the Commission proposal, seen by EURACTIV, aims lower, going for a 15% CO2 reduction target in 2025 and an “indicative” target of 30% for 2030, compared to 2019.

In the Netherlands, trucks make up about 2% of total number of vehicles on the road but their emissions are comparatively much larger, accounting for 17% of road transport emissions, Stientje van Veldhoven explained.

“And that means there is still a lot that we can do on truck emissions. Of course in the end, you want to go to zero emission trucks. But it will take some time until we get there. So we shouldn’t continue to put on the market today’s technology, with still important CO2 emissions”.

Cost-effectiveness

For Stientje van Veldhoven, the key principle is to adopt the most cost-effectiveness measures available in all sectors of the economy – including transport, buildings, and agriculture which are currently not covered by the EU’s emissions trading scheme.

If targets in one sector are weak, then the others will need to pick up the slack, she argues.

“If you look at cars, the Commission proposal itself showed that reductions of up to 40 or 50% could still be cost-effective,” van Veldhoven said, referring to the 30% emission target that was put down in the Commission’s November proposal.

“So if we don’t take the cost-effective measures in the transport sector, it means that you’re going to have to take measures which are perhaps not cost-effective in other sectors,” she warned.

According to Transport and Environment (T&E), an NGO, cost-effective measures would include a 24% reduction target for 2025, greater engine efficiency, re-shaping truck fronts to make them aerodynamic, and low-rolling resistance tyres.

“A best-in-class new truck is already 9% more fuel efficient than the average new truck. Great R&D is taking place but the resulting technology currently sees very limited deployment (for example, one particular engine innovation, turbo-compounding, saves 3% fuel but is found on less than 1% of new trucks),” T&E said.

Ambitious CO2 standards for trucks are good for businesses, and the climate

The starting point for truck emission rules must be cost-effectiveness, writes James Nix. But it will take tough standards to ensure R&D is deployed at scale on most vehicles, he argues.

Asked by EURACTIV what the cost-effective measures are, van Veldhoven replied: “Setting the targets high. And making sure we stimulate the transition to electric vehicles,” she said, pointing out that demand is currently greater than the cars available on offer.

“So we need to make sure that we stimulate our European car companies to invest in the production of electric vehicles in Europe.”

That includes “developing batteries with a longer range and better performances” as well as facilitating “cross-border charging” infrastructure so that people can move around Europe easily without having to worry about the availability of charging points, she said.

“These are the kinds of questions that we need to tackle. And we really need pan-European ambitions for that,” van Veldhoven said.

Technology could help cut truck fuel bills by €5,700 a year, claims report

Trucks could be much more fuel efficient and save hauliers €5,700 a year if they used technology that is already available, according to a new report by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) released on Tuesday (26 September).

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