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ENVI narrowly fails to capitalise on feasible EU mobility CO₂ solutions
EU | Brussels

ENVI narrowly fails to capitalise on feasible EU mobility CO₂ solutions

24 Oct 2023 · Environment

In a closely contested vote, the European Parliament's environment committee has adopted the Commission’s misguided CO₂ emission reduction targets for heavy-duty vehicles. ENVI has failed to mobilise mature decarbonisation solutions, leaving a very narrow window for carbon-neutral fuels. It’s now in the hands of the Parliament’s plenary to offer a realistic and efficient decarbonisation pathway.

The European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has narrowly voted in support of the original overly ambitious emission reduction targets proposed by the European Commission in the revision of CO₂ standards for heavy-duty vehicles, despite opposition from a great number of ENVI members.

Just like the Council, ENVI’s official position now supports the Commission’s unrealistic 45% emission reduction target for manufacturers by 2030, which dramatically increases to 70% as of 2035, before jumping to 90% starting 2040.

Unfortunately, ENVI did not join the Council in pushing back on the Commission’s 100% target for city buses starting 2035. However, it did recognise the significant differences between urban and interurban buses, enabling a more realistic decarbonisation path for the latter, as called for by IRU.

IRU EU Advocacy Director Raluca Marian said, “Setting unrealistic targets will in fact hinder Europe’s chances of realising the Green Deal.

“If the final rules follow the Council and ENVI’s proposals, the EU would have irresponsibly overlooked feasible measures to cut CO₂ emissions and set out-of-touch targets that transport operators would likely hesitate to take seriously.”

ENVI has also decided to omit a carbon correction factor, limiting operators’ options for “clean vehicles” to battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell and hydrogen internal combustion engines, skipping liquid and gaseous renewable and synthetic fuels, despite their potential to achieve similar results on a well-to-wheel approach.

“A recognition of all CO₂ emission reduction pathways along the entire value chain is critical. Transport operators and vehicle manufacturers must not be discouraged from considering cleaner fuel alternatives to fossil fuels. But today’s vote leaves a very narrow window for mature clean technology options perfectly adapted for heavy-duty operations,” said Raluca Marian.

“We are very disappointed that the Parliament’s Environmental committee was held captive by a tight majority of members who are disconnected from the reality on the ground, despite the many strong MEP voices calling for a feasible decarbonisation path. In the short and medium term, there are no signs that infrastructure for such a high target of zero-emission vehicles will be ready for massive deployment in urban areas and EU road networks. Even the existing 2030 30% target is challenging given the current lack of enabling conditions,” she added.

Both ENVI and the Council have left a small 10% leeway for carbon-neutral fuelled trucks beyond 2040. However, such a small margin might not be enough to incentivise manufacturers and fuel producers to build and support carbon-neutral trucks, which are necessary as viable alternatives and critical for certain operations.

On a positive note, and as advocated for by the industry, ENVI joined the Council in anticipating the targets’ review clause from 2028 to 2027, providing the incoming EU political leadership time to conclude the file before the 2030 deadline.

Ahead of today’s vote and the plenary vote in the European Parliament on 20 November, EU road transport industry leaders were at the European Parliament last week to outline why some legislators need to reassess their approach to CO₂ standards for heavy-duty vehicles.

Hosted by MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu, the meeting allowed the industry and MEPs to exchange views on how to cut road transport’s CO₂ emissions without exposing the EU’s mobility networks and supply chains to unnecessary costs and risks, as reflected in the realistic approach of many ENVI committee members.

“We urge the European Parliament’s plenary to support a pragmatic solution for a fast and efficient decarbonisation of the EU’s heavy-duty sector, as clearly voiced by the European Parliament’s transport committee and by a great number of ENVI members,” said Raluca Marian.

“We need reasonable targets based on existing and expected market, operational and infrastructure conditions, a reclassification of interurban buses as coaches, an exemption for high-capacity vehicles that cannot be transformed into zero-emission vehicles in the near future, and a recognition of all CO₂ emission reduction pathways by including a system that accounts for carbon neutrality on a well-to-wheel approach,” concluded Raluca Marian.