Global brands urge EC President to propose heavy-goods efficiency standards

Global brands such as IKEA, Nestlé and Philips have urged the President of the European Commission (EC) to propose post-2020 CO2 reductions for heavy-goods vehicles in Europe, raising issues over the impact that European transport legislation would have on the UK if the country were to leave the European Union (EU).

In a letter sent to the EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker, a cross-industry coalition of 19 major companies, logistics giants and green groups have stated that fuel efficiency standards for new trucks and trailers would save billions for businesses, lead to cheaper goods, protect the environment and boost energy independence.

The letter reads: “We are convinced fuel efficiency standards would save consumers and businesses money at the pump, lessen the economic and security threats presented by oil dependence and price volatility, and help European manufacturers and suppliers develop new technologies that spur investment in research, development, and production of the ultra-efficient vehicles Europe needs to make the transition to a low carbon economy”.

The coalition highlights that the EU’s 2030 climate targets and more ambitious targets of the Paris climate deal can only be met if fuel economy standards are issued for heavy-goods vehicles, which account for 25% of road transport’s fuel use and carbon emissions. Realising a 35% cost-effective for truck fuel efficiency improvements could save businesses up to €10,000 per year, per truck, while avoiding 37m tonnes in annual carbon emissions by 2030, according to an EC Impact Assessment.

Transport & Environment sustainable transport group freight director William Todts commented: “[EC Commissioner Miguel] Cañete has said truck CO2 standards are essential and he’s right. More fuel efficient trucks will save hauliers money, boost the economy and protect the environment. It’s time for the Juncker Commission to follow the example of the US, China and Japan and set ambitious truck fuel economy standards.”

Brexit concerns

Proposals to introduce EU legislation on heavy-goods vehicles raise issues regarding the UK’s future ability to reduce transport emissions if the country votes to leave the EU.

A potential Brexit outcome would mean the UK would not be subject to any post-2020 standards that reduce the CO2 emissions of trucks and trailers, which could exacerbate concerns posed by MPs about the current Government’s lack of progress on transportation, especially on targets to meet transport demands from renewable energy sources.

Meanwhile, research published earlier this week demonstrated that to reduce freight’s impact on London’s air quality the use of low-emission commercial vehicles must be substantially increased. New data funded by Transport for London (TfL) coincided with the introduction of a freight air quality initiative in London aimed at increasing the availability and uptake of low emission vans and lorries.

A report from Cambridge Econometrics earlier this year highlighted that an increased focus on domestically-produced electricity or hydrogen – to power low-carbon vehicles – could benefit the UK economy to the tune of £5bn, and create as many as 19,000 new jobs. The research showed that a transition to low-carbon transport could reduce global spending on oil and save £232bn a year between 2020 and 2030.

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George Ogleby

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