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The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has claimed that tank-to-wheel CO₂ measurements provide a flawed picture on emissions, adding that electric and hydrogen vehicles will lead to increased CO₂ emissions.

In a statement published on its website, the IRU argued that “hydrogen and electricity are often mistakenly seen as zero emission fuels”. The organisation also published research that says both electric and hydrogen commercial vehicles produce more CO2 than a diesel counterpart based on today’s energy mix:

While hydrogen and electricity are often mistakenly seen as zero emission fuels, if all CO2 emissions are taken into account, including well-to-tank, a more realistic carbon picture of these alternative fuels emerges. In Europe, the US and China alone, on average, this would add 45% more CO2 for electricity and 72% more for hydrogen versus conventional diesel, based on today’s energy mix. A transition to fuels such as electricity and hydrogen for heavy-duty vehicles, without using low or zero-carbon energy sources, would therefore fail to account for between 400 and 700 million tonnes of annual CO2 emissions.


Photo credit & research data: IRU

Commenting on the data, IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said that 2030 and 2050 environmental targets could only be achieved if CO2 is accounted for correctly:

Decarbonising commercial transport is a huge and expensive job. The right mix of incentives and investment to accelerate low and eventually net zero carbon alternatives to meet 2030 and 2050 targets can only be achieved if CO2 is accounted for correctly. The biased tank-to-wheel standard, measuring emissions at the tailpipe instead of doing a thorough well-to-wheel assessment, will continue to distort policy action to reduce CO2 in commercial road transport. Road transport operators need certainty as they continue working on the enormous challenge of effectively decarbonising their fleets and operations, not unworkable fantasy options.

The IRU has urged policymakers to use the “more comprehensive” well-to-wheel standard to evaluate and plan for decarbonisation investments and incentives. This, it argues, will enable commercial road transport operators to decarbonise as effectively and rapidly as possible.

Photo credits: + Mr.choppers / Wikimedia Commons


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