Brussels sets the truck emissions in the spotlight

Monday, 21 may 2018 | Redacción CEU

When facing thebattle against climate change in Europe, the glances have always been directed towards cars. This selective attention is already part of the past. For the first time, the European Commission places heavy-duty vehicles in the spotlight. In particular, Brussels proposes to limit the carbon dioxide emissions of these vehicles by 15% in 2025 in relation to the figures of 2019, in order to reach the 30% in 2030. A purpose for eleven years on the continent that environmentalists consider insufficient and that the sector qualifies as too demanding, strict or aggressive.

 

The 75% of heavy-duty vehicles in the continent are trucks and represent the 5% of vehicles that travel through European roads. Even so, it is considered that they are responsible for the 22% of the total global emissions. These figures may have influenced the decision of the European Commission to launch a new proposal aimed at achieving a future more aligned with the objectives to reach in The Paris Agreement.

The initiative proposed by the EC will affect heavy-duty vehicles and, as of 2022, the provision will be extended to buses, lighter trucks and trailers. Brussels estimates that thanks to this measure, which is part of the third and last Mobility Package of the EU Executive, could reduce 54 million tons of carbon dioxide between 2020 and 2030. Although this commission leaves aside factors like the economic outlay involved in this transit, it has highlighted the long-term savings that can lead to lower consumption of more efficient trucks and the creation of approximately 25,000 new jobs for 2025 that can entail adapting to the new standards.

The proposal for consideration

Although Europe tends to be at the forefront of environmental legislation, the regulation of heavy vehicles reached countries like the USA, China, Canada or Japan before. However, this European proposal is equivalent to the one promoted by the EC itself for new cars and vans, which also set a reduction of 15% in 2025 and 30% in 2030. <<All sectors have to comply with the commitments of the Paris Agreement, including heavy vehicles like trucks, buses or vans>>, said the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete in a statement.

This European proposal does not satisfy environmental organizations anyway, and they consider it insufficient. Nor is it welcomed by the automotive sector with enthusiasm. The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), where there are seven of the largest truck manufacturers in the Old Continent, considers that this proposal is "too aggressive". The automobile employers point out that the truck sector has a lower capacity to adapt than the car sector and that this is a very ambitious goal considering that the vehicles that will be sold in 2025 are being manufactured at this time. This seems to be the main feeling, because the Spanish Confederation of Goods Transport (CETM) also pronounced themselves in the same direction.

It should be noted that the Mobility Package presented by the European Commission does not only include this proposal, although it is partially eclipsed by it. It also presents an Action Plan for Batteries with the aim of promoting the improvement of competitiveness in mass production and also encouraging the electric vehicles and includes measures aimed at promoting the digitalization of transport, creating a legal framework adapted to autonomous vehicles, increasing the safety on the road and improving infrastructures.

Brussels sets the truck emissions in the spotlight

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This announcement comes right after knowing an increase in these vehicles sales. The past month the registrations of the industrial vehicles, buses, coaches and minibuses grew in Spain by 21% in comparison to the figures collected the same month last year, according to the data facilitated by Anfac, Faconauto and Ganvam. This first four-month period the registrations reached a total of 9,475 units, a figure that represents 11.5% in respect of 2017. The mandatory question is: How will the European proposal affect the sale of these vehicles?

On the other hand, last week Brussels decided to discard sending Spain before the Court of Justice of the European Union due to the overcome of the levels of pollution in the air, at least, for the moment. The EC estimated that the measures presented "as long as they are executed correctly" are adequate to address the detected problems. However, at a press conference the European Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, expressed that the EC will continue to "closely review" the measures and commitments adopted to reverse the current situation. However, the cases of countries like Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Romania and Hungary will be referred to the European justice.

This growing interest in the conservation of the environment at a political level also seems to have a social reflection in Spain. According to the fifth study of "Spaniards in the face of new mobility" carried out by the Centro de Demoscopia de Movilidad, the 56.9% of respondents consider urgent to address the issue of vehicle pollution.

From this same report, it can be deduced that anti pollution measures in cities influences on the respondents "a lot" when it comes to buying a vehicle, in particular, according to the 56.1% of them. For the moment, their first option of a vehicle that respects the environment would be the hybrid car, 38% of respondents bet on it compared to other alternatives such as electric cars (23.2%), plug-in hybrids (12.2%), more modern gasoline engines (11.1%), more modern diesel engines (8.4%) or LPG or CNG versions (5.3%).

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