New emissions regulations for logistics and road transport in the EU

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The European Union is in the midst of changing regulations on harmful emissions from road transport vehicles. Within the guidelines of the Climate Law, it is launching ‘Fit for 55’, a package of initiatives that updates the existing environmental impact provisions and tightens the mandatory requirements for the industry.

More than 50 initiatives from the Environment Committee

In total, more than 50 transport and energy regulations will be reviewed by the Environment Committee to strengthen the fight against global warming and climate change. The vast majority fall under the ‘Fit for 55’ package, which aims for a 55% reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.

The measures aim to make emission mitigation measures more realistic. For example, it is now known that 1 in 3 freight trucks emit more nitrogen oxide (NOx) than the current law allows, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA). This means that they exceed 0.69 g/kWh, equivalent to 3.26 g/kg of fuel.

How do Europe’s measures affect road transport? The legislative changes are aimed at accelerating the phasing out of internal combustion engines, boosting the use of renewable energies and reforming the current emissions trading model.

Accelerating the phasing out of internal combustion engines, boosting the use of renewable energies and reforming the emissions trading model are the main objectives.

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Adjusting the emissions trading system

In 2022, the European Commission will implement and apply the revised carbon dioxide emission standards for transport. This will also affect heavy goods vehicles, both passenger and goods vehicles with two or more axles. Brussels will also oblige maritime transport to comply with the Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and air transport to pay more for the carbon dioxide it emits.

For years, Europe has made it mandatory to measure the carbon footprint of logistics operations, including road transport, under the international standard UNE-EN 16258:2013. The Commission will promote what is one of the most common methodologies for the accurate estimation of both harmful gas emission levels and energy consumption.

  • Suppliers, directly responsible for measuring and reporting. Under the new EU-wide emissions trading system, those directly responsible for measuring and reporting allowances each year will be the suppliers of those fuels. These measurements, which will take into account the carbon intensity of each fuel, will be complemented by reports on the total volume of fuels traded and sold.
  • Cap and trade model. The EU ETS will be based on the ‘cap and trade’ model. This means that an actor’s emissions must be commensurate with its allowances, issued by the relevant administrative authority. A maximum of allowances is set for a period of time and a framework under which efficient gas reduction actions can be developed in other parts of the world, which would result in additional allowances.

Now, fuel suppliers will have to measure and report allowances, which will be set according to a ‘cap and trade’ model established for the EU

Critics, such as the IRU, focus their arguments on the fact that energy taxation together with emissions trading for road transport could turn into a double payment for emissions by professional transport operators.

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Energy consumption

On the energy front, significant changes are also on the horizon that will affect large and medium-sized companies in the loading and supply chain sector. In 2014, the EU set a target that by 2030 at least 32% of the total energy consumption of the EU-27 should come from renewable sources, but this will be revised upwards, and it is even believed that the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 will also be outdated.

Recharging infrastructure

In a scenario where only three countries (Germany, France and the Netherlands) have 70% of the total number of public charging points in the EU, the Commission wants to boost their diffusion as quickly as possible. At the moment there are only 250,000, far short of the one million set by the Green Pact. Therefore, as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package, it will oblige member states to install fast-charging points on major roads with a maximum distance of 60 km between one device and another. Hydrogen as an alternative will also receive a boost, with fuel cell electric cars (FCEVs) required to find a hydrogen refuelling point, or hydrogen station, every 150 kilometres.

‘Fit for 55’ obligará a los Estados a instalar puntos de recarga rápida en las principales carreteras con una distancia de 60 km como máximo entre un dispositivo y otro

En cuanto a los camiones de transporte de mercancías, tanto la Federación Europea de Transporte y Medio Ambiente (T&E) como la European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) han reclamado a la UE que garantice la puesta en marcha para 2025 de 11.000 puntos de carga para camiones eléctricos en la UE, y de 42.000 puntos en 2030.

Find out how to move your loads faster, further and safer here.

José Ángel Sanz