Going into the final stretch of the trilogue debates on CO2 standards for trucks, it is crucial that European environmental policy ambition is balanced with the commercial realities of a sector dominated by small players with very low profit margins.
The EC’s proposed CO2 reduction level of 15% for 2025 will be an important driver for uptake of fuel-efficient technology, but the proposed 30% would only be feasible if based on a Well-to-Wheel approach. CO2 emissions reduction standards should not force manufacturers to make investment decisions that are not cost-effective. A 2030 target should only be set during the 2022 review and based on the Well-to-Wheel approach.
Linking environmental legislation with the Well-to-Wheel methodology will ensure that all alternative fuel options used and combustion engines are kept on the table. Matthias Maedge who leads IRU’s work in the EU, said “Decision-makers must ensure that the CO2 standards for trucks reflect the role of low-carbon fuels that operators are already investing in, such as LNG and advanced biofuels. The carbon footprint of the fuel is as important as the efficiency of the vehicles. Liquid and gaseous synthetic and renewable fuels will be the main decarbonisation driver for commercial vehicles and longer distances”.
Maedge continued “IRU would welcome a more open debate on the role of different alternative fuels for different use cases. The CO2 standards should not result in shifting investment to smaller, less efficient vehicles easier to electrify and would result in more vehicles on the road, more congestion and more CO2. Sacrificing payload and range is not an option for most road transport operators”.
Transport operators are committed to greening their operations, but the financial constraints of the sector must be considered when pushing uptake of new technologies and alternative fuels. Policies to green road transport must be based on a cost-effective approach with legislation aligning not only with technological feasibility, but also with what is commercially viable.
Investment in natural gas refuelling infrastructure and electric charging points, as well as broader product availability, are key drivers to speed up market uptake.
IRU urges decision-makers to consider the realities of the sector in the final discussions over the next week. Environmental legislation must be based on technological and commercial feasibility, must be backed up by an enabling framework and must take a technology neutral approach recognising all alternative fuel options. Electrification is not the silver bullet to decarbonise the sector.