The European Commission promised sweeping changes to its regulation of car and truck pollution in an effort to slash carbon emission levels by 2030.
In a move that will send a chill through the car industry, the executive announced today (20 July) that it will propose the first EU law to regulate how trucks consume fuel and produce harmful carbon emissions.
Auto manufacturers have opposed a binding law to regulate truck efficiency. Such a law already exists in the United States, China and Japan.
Trucks currently make up one-quarter of carbon emissions from all vehicles on the road in Europe.
The Commission’s announcement comes one day after Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition chief, slapped truck manufacturers Daimler, Iveco, Volvo/Renault and DAF with a record-high fine of €2.93 billion for participating in a cartel and coordinating when they introduced new emissions measuring technology.
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič said the watershed fine showed that truck emissions need regulation.
“We need urgent action because we need to restore the confidence of consumers in our car industry,” Šefčovič told reporters in Brussels.
The Commission is under pressure to meet its goal of securing a 60% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. So far, emission levels have remained roughly the same since the early 2000s as more vehicles are put on roads.
The European car industry association ACEA said that the Commission’s plans targeted auto manufacturers more aggressively than airlines and ships, which compete with trucks for freight shipping deals. Seventy-five percent of freight in Europe is shipped via roads, compared to an 18% share for railways and 7% for ships, according to 2013 figures.
ACEA has lobbied the executive to introduce tax incentives for new, cleaner trucks and promote better-paved roads as alternatives to regulating truck emissions.
“Focusing on new vehicle technology alone will have limited environmental benefits. A more effective approach would seek to address the full fleet and look at how these vehicles are used,” said Erik Jonnaert, secretary general for the Brussels-based lobby group.
Environmental campaigners cheered the European Commission’s decision to regulate truck emissions. NGO Transport & Environment called for the executive to also introduce new road tolls that charge vehicles based on how much fuel they consume.
The Commission is expected to propose a reform of EU road toll law this autumn.
EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc also announced that that the executive will introduce incentives to push electric vehicles, and other cars that produce lower levels of carbon emissions.