Photo credits @ Petr Kratochvil / CC0 1.0

EU tightens CO2 emission standards for lorries and buses

The Council of the European Union today adopted a revised regulation on CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles. The new regulation outlines a stricter reduction schedule, aiming for a 90% decrease in emissions from new lorries, buses, and coaches by 2040 compared to 2019 levels.

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The new rules, formally adopted by the Council of the European Union on 13th May 2024, set stricter emission reduction targets for lorries, buses, and coaches. These targets are designed to encourage the development and adoption of zero-emission technologies in the heavy-duty vehicle sector, which is currently responsible for over a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions from road transport in the EU.

Previously, only heavy lorries exceeding 16 tonnes were subject to CO2 reduction targets. The revised regulation now encompasses a wider range of vehicles, including smaller trucks, urban buses, coaches, and trailers.

The existing 15% reduction target for 2025 remains unchanged. However, significant increases are mandated for future years:

  • 45% reduction in emissions from 2030 (up from the previously proposed 30%).
  • 65% reduction in emissions from 2035.
  • 90% reduction in emissions from 2040.

To further decarbonise urban transport, the regulation introduces a particularly ambitious target for city buses. By 2030, 90% of all new urban buses must be zero-emission, with a complete phase-out of conventional models by 2035.

The EU acknowledges the need to balance emission reduction with industry competitiveness. The regulation aims to stimulate innovation in clean technologies while ensuring a smooth transition for manufacturers.

The regulation will be officially published in the EU’s legal journal and enter into force 20 days later. The European Commission will review the effectiveness of the new measures in 2027. This review may include the development of a standardised method for assessing the full lifecycle CO2 emissions of heavy-duty vehicles.

The stricter emission standards are part of the EU’s broader “Fit for 55” legislative package, which aims to achieve a net reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The ultimate goal is for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050.