EU Commission plans to make freight transport greener in new measures


By Julia Payne

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission plans to cut red tape and crack down on greenwashing in the transport of freight in new measures aimed at lowering emissions in a sector which accounts for 30% of the European Union’s carbon dioxide emissions.

The proposed measures announced on Tuesday, which will also see the first significant changes in around 30 years in the size of trucks operating in the bloc, are part of the EU’s efforts to deliver on its Green Deal and net zero emissions targets.

Despite being a major source of CO2 emissions in the European Union, there is no standard framework for freight companies in the 27-member bloc to calculate “door-to-door” emissions – a reporting gap the Commission wants to fill with the CountEmissionsEU regulation.

“This (gap) often leads to a significant discrepancy in results…(and) creates conditions for greenwashing, and can give wrong incentives to users.”

The new EU framework would be mandatory for companies that choose to publish their emissions or share these with their business partners.

The Commission has also proposed amending the size of heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) – such as trucks and buses – for the first time since the 1990s in order to accommodate the weight of batteries as the European fleet shifts to electric vehicles. Currently, about 96% of trucks weighing over 3.5 metric tons run on diesel.

For instance, a standard 40 metric ton truck would see an additional 4 metric tons added to its maximum weight restriction while hydrogen-powered trucks would be longer. These shifts are expected to encourage the purchase of zero-emission trucks. With technology expected to bring about lighter batteries, the extra weight allocation can instead be used to carry more goods.

The legislation also seeks to smooth over cross-border restrictions and mandate the use of built-in road detectors to check for weight infractions in an effort to reduce pollution, infrastructure strain and overall congestion that costs the EU 230 billion euros ($253 billion) a year.

Rail freight transport, accounting for over 50% of rail traffic, suffers from similar cross-border regulation inconsistencies and poor traffic management.

The Commission is proposing measures to set up a central coordination mechanism between national infrastructure managers and harmonised penalties for those that book up unnecessary slots. The managers would also coordinate with the growing number of passenger sleeper trains that will increasingly compete with freight for nighttime slots.

($1 = 0.9089 euros)

(Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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