Clean trucks: will we soon have quotas for emission-free commercial vehicles?

They are big, essential for logistics, and travel thousands of kilometers: trucks are ubiquitous and vital to the running of our economy. They move goods and commodities of all kinds from A to B – but unfortunately, they also cause air and noise pollution. One answer is clean, emission-free trucks.

As discussed by the European Parliament in 2019, heavy-duty vehicles, including trucks, are responsible for around 27 percent of CO2 emissions from road traffic. Moreover, these emissions continue to increase. To counteract this trend, the European Council adopted a new directive for the reduction of truck emissions in June 2019: the intention is to cut average CO2 emissions from new trucks by 30 percent by 2030. This goal is mandatory for all manufacturers.

Emission-free Europe?

Greater sustainability, less pollution – with this in mind, a total of 18 European companies and organizations in retail and logistics have founded the European Clean Trucking Alliance (ECTA). This alliance has called upon the EU to develop a concrete plan of action and to define binding goals for greener logistics. The German Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer (CSU), has reacted positively to the initiative*:

“Climate change is transforming our world, and we need to face up to this enormous challenge and re-think transportation. To this end, we need the exchange of ideas and experience within Europe.”

The land of emission-free possibilities

In the United States as well, the call for emission-free trucks is growing louder. As reported in the New York Times, California has passed a regulation that will require more than half of all trucks sold to be emission-free by 2035. “This is exactly the right time for this rule,” stated Mary Nichols, Chair of California Air Resources Board. “We certainly know that the economy is in a rough shape right now, and there aren’t a lot of new vehicle sales of any kind. But when [businesses] are able to buy vehicles again, we think it’s important that they be investing in the cleanest kinds of vehicles.”

Now, a total of 15 states and Washington, D.C. are to follow suit. Whether and how international governments respond to these demands remains to be seen. One thing is sure, however. Manufacturers, retailers and government will have to join forces if the objectives are to be met. 


*German only