Rhein on Energy and Climate

When talking about climate change we usually think of electricity, passenger cars, airplanes, but hardly ever of heavy-duty trucks. That is a mistake, for heavy-duty trucks account for a substantial share of C02 emissions from the transport sector, which is second among the key emitters after electricity.

So far only Japan has introduced heavy-duty truck fuel consumption standards that are in force since 2005.

This is bound to change in the near future. USA, China, Canada and EU are in the process of adopting, implementing or reinforcing fuel-efficiency standards.

The US has adopted such standards for the first time in 2011, and President Obama has just announced a more stringent set of standards applicable for 2014-18.

Canada will apply standards based on the American ones as of model year 2014. China has also adopted fuel efficiency standards and start implementing them in 2015. So will the EU, based on C02 emissions.

Major automotive countries are thus tackling the most important source of C02 emissions after electricity, industry and passenger cars.

They do so in the interest of the users and their truck industries, which have to compete internationally and are therefore willing to support their governments` approach. Obama has been careful to emphasise the advantages of tougher standards for innovation and lower fuel cost and has earned more praise than complaint when presenting his latest proposals, which cost the industry $ 8 billion but save truck users $ 50 billion during the life time of the trucks through improved fuel efficiency.

The EU has not been on the forefront in this sector, probably because its trucks enjoy already high fuel efficiency. But this should not impede it from inviting major producing countries in view of harmonising standards internationally. After all, this should be an important aspect for the forthcoming negotiations on the international climate agreement to be concluded in the autumn of 2015.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 7/3/2014


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