EU states to reconsider CO2 truck law approval

  • : Biofuels, Hydrogen, Oil products
  • 24/02/07

EU diplomats may reconsider formally the approval of the regulation requiring manufacturers to cut average emissions of new heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) and coaches on 9 February, after failing today to achieve a qualified majority of EU member states over concerns that the law insufficiently provides for CO2 neutral fuels.

A diplomat told Argus that formal approval of the regulation "might" now take place on 9 February. Non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment said the blockage was triggered by the German liberal FDP party that is calling for "a loophole for e-fuels and biofuels — including climate-wrecking palm oil".

"German truck manufacturers don't want a loophole for e-fuels or biofuels," T&E's freight policy manager Fedor Unterlohner said. "The FDP is going against the interests of its own domestic auto industry which wants regulatory certainty, not diversions into dead-end technologies", he added.

The same diplomat said that EU decisions should not be influenced by internal party politics in a single member state, without referring to Germany.

It is still unclear whether Belgium, which currently chairs the EU's council of ministers, can secure the required qualified majority, consisting of at least 55pc, or 15, of EU's 27 states themselves representing at least 65pc of the EU population. In addition to Germany, other countries — including Italy, Hungary, and Poland — have previously expressed concerns over emission laws effectively phasing out the internal combustion engine (ICE).

Germany stated in October 2023 that the definition of a zero-emission vehicle would allow for "hydrogen combustion engines in addition to battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles". And the country approved the definition for allowing for ICE technology to remain a "permissible option for manufacturers and users — ideally running on climate-neutral fuels".

Negotiators for the European Parliament and EU states provisionally agreed, in January, on the regulation.

Cuts for trucks weighing over 7.5t and for coaches start at 45pc in 2030, 65pc in 2035 and 90pc in 2040, compared with average CO2 emissions of manufacturers' reported emissions in 2019. But the regulation only contains a "review", also exploring the issue of HDVs running "exclusively" on CO2-neutral fuels.

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