Blockade lifted: Germany gives way on EU’s 2040 truck CO2 rules

(EurActiv, 9 Feb 2024) A last-minute deal in Berlin has paved the way for the approval of the EU’s 2040 target of reducing heavy-duty vehicle emissions by 90% in exchange for a clause dedicated to vehicles running on e-fuels.

From 2035, Europe will ban the sale of new cars with traditional petrol and diesel engines. Similar rules for heavy-duty vehicles, outlining a 90% cut in emissions by 2040, were okayed by the European Parliament and EU countries in informal negotiations in January.

Official approval is usually a formality and was expected on 7 February at an ambassadors’ meeting. A last-second blockade in Berlin, sparked by the liberal junior government party FDP who were unsatisfied with the January deal, would have forced Germany to abstain – putting the law at risk due to similar concerns in countries like Italy and Czechia.

Finally, voting was delayed until Friday afternoon. Following a last-minute deal, Germany will vote yes, according to sources in the German government. The transport ministry confirmed the agreement to Euractiv. In exchange, the FDP gets a special exception clause, making way for heavy-duty vehicles that run on synthetic fuels – best known as e-fuels.

Whilst e-fuels, which can be climate-neutral when consisting of green hydrogen and captured CO2, are more climate-friendly than fossil fuels, tailpipe emissions – which are the data point that matters to Brussels – don’t change. The special exception clause fixes that “loophole” and will be in a non-binding recital.

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EurActiv, 9 Feb 2024: Blockade lifted: Germany gives way on EU’s 2040 truck CO2 rules