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CountEmissions EU: Some good news, but Council fails to clarify key points
EU | Brussels

CountEmissions EU: Some good news, but Council fails to clarify key points

5 Dec 2023 · Environment, Corporate

IRU welcomes the Council’s agreement on a well-to-wheel approach for counting emissions in the transport sector. Major points of unclarity remain on how to treat subcontracting, a common practice in road transport, and how much bureaucracy and costs the new calculations will place on transport operators.

The CountEmissions EU proposal was presented by the European Commission earlier this year as part of the “Greening Freight Package”. The new regulation aims to implement a common EU framework for calculating and disclosing GHG emissions deriving from passenger and goods transport services. 

On a positive note, the Council has backed the Commission’s approach and aligned the CountEmissions EU proposal with ISO standard 14083. The ISO standard is already in use and provides a methodology for calculating and disclosing GHG emissions using a well-to-wheel approach.

A big novelty compared to the European Commission’s proposal is that the Council would like large transport operators to be obliged to count their emissions for domestic operations based on primary data. 

IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “We take note that the Council would like large transport operators to calculate their emissions based on their actual fleets and operations. This is neither good nor bad in itself since large corporations have to report their emissions under the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The issue is that the Council is unclear on what constitutes a large enterprise. A reference to the definitions used in the CSRD would have been appreciated. Consistency of EU rules would be a good start.”

The Council also binds the European Commission to provide an online tool to calculate GHG emissions.

One of the major points of uncertainty for the sector is the treatment of subcontractors. As a large proportion of the road transport market is characterised by subcontracting, it is important to clarify that a large company which bases its reporting on primary data is allowed to use default (secondary) data for small subcontractors. In most cases, small subcontractors are microenterprises (one to five vehicles), which do not possess the necessary expertise or tools to collect data as well as to calculate and disclose their GHG emissions. 

Raluca Marian said, “The Council fails to clarify a simple question for the road transport sector: how should subcontractors’ data be treated for emission calculation purposes? Some call it a detail, but this ‘detail’ is important for our sector. If we do not understand this aspect, how can the road sector apply the rule? And how can one even imagine that a microenterprise could have the ability, time and resources to collect primary data?”  

The second major point concerns the verification of output data, an additional element that was not properly considered. Once operators have calculated their GHG emissions, it will need to be verified by a conformity assessment body to ensure that it meets the requirements. While the Commission plans to adopt specific rules for the verification procedure at a later stage, the scope should already be clarified in the proposal.

“The current text is rather confusing on the role of conformity assessment bodies. There are millions of transport operations every day. We assume that nobody wants a stamp to certify that emissions were counted precisely in each case. But this is not clear in the law and the Commission has not made it any better,” highlighted Raluca Marian.

“We are now looking with interest at the European Parliament, which has yet to define its position on the file. We keep our hopes high for improvements in the Parliament’s version. The Parliament’s position, expected in April, will face the council in trilogue negotiations,” she concluded.