The member countries of the European Union reached an agreement on Thursday to reduce by 30% the carbon dioxide emissions of the new trucks in 2030. The pressure of several countries, including Holland and Sweden, caused this reduction is mandatory and not "aspirational", as the initial proposal contemplated. The Council of the EU must now negotiate this document with the European Parliament, whose starting position is higher than that of the States.
The decision of the member countries comes after the same week the community institutions agreed on the steps they must take for the progressive decarbonisation of cars. Specifically, cars they should reduce their emissions by 37.5% and the vans by 31% compared to the records of 2021. The next case was the trucks. The initial approach put on the table by the Austrian presidency was 15% by 2025 and "at least 30%" by 2030, with the nuance that this was an objective that was not binding.
As already happened in the car tour debate, several countries pushed to raise those goals. According to diplomatic sources, at least nine states demanded, in the debates prior to the council of ministers on Thursday, that the goal for 2030 was 35%. Specifically, this was demanded by Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland and Malta. And in addition, they pressed for that emission reduction to be mandatory and not voluntary. "We could find that by 2025 we would have managed to lower the goal by 15% and by 2030 we would have regressed," these sources explain.
The Eastern countries – led by the Czech Republic and Hungary – and Germany, as happened in the car tour debate, closed ranks with the proposal that the 2030 targets were not mandatory. The position of Spain caused surprise – and even unrest – in some delegations and NGOs before the meeting. Given the configuration of two blocks, Spain could decant the balance to one side or another. Although the large distributors – including Mercadona and Eroski – had encouraged an ambitious commitment, the Spanish delegation maintained an ambiguous position that a binding target would be achieved by 2030.
At the entrance to the meeting, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Hugo Morán, maintained that "the reasonable thing is that the objectives set by the EU are binding", although he gave priority to the achievement of an agreement. At the meeting, he left it in the air and aligned himself with achieving milestones "with mandatory character to 2025 and the will to move decisively to the same requirement to 2030 in the 2022 revision. " The federation of environmental NGOs Transport & Environment described as "very disappointing" the Spanish position. Some diplomats also recalled that among the countries that led the request for tougher legislation were the Netherlands and Sweden, two of the leading truck producers in the EU.
In the absence of an agreement, the Austrian presidency decided to formulate a new proposal that consisted of making that 30% mandatory. And finally it went ahead. The support of Spain was well received by countries that are pushing for a faster transition towards decarbonisation, which consider the EU Council agreement a good starting point for negotiations with the European Parliament. Germany abstained.
The European Parliament, which also debated between ambition and realism, approved a greater cut in pollution for which trucks are responsible: 20% in 2025 and 35% in 2030. The Spanish deputy Florent Marcellesi (The Greens) regretted that the Council continues "without supporting a greater ambition" despite being necessary to comply with the Agreement from Paris. "In interinstitutional negotiations the European Parliament will fight again for greater ambition: the decarbonisation of transport is a climate and economic priority," he said.
Therefore, community sources believe that the final result will be higher than agreed on Thursday. The Transport & Environment organization considered the agreement as "an important step", but warned that it is still insufficient in order to meet the climatic challenges for the next decade.