Capping Global Truck GHG Emissions: The Way Forward?

Deborah Gordon, Philip Owen, Martin Porter, Manfred Schuckert November 9, 2011 Brussels
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions caused by truck transport have long been left unregulated both in the United States and the European Union, but recent U.S. measures are challenging EU lawmakers.
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Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by truck transport have long been left unregulated both in the United States and the European Union. Recently, however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted measures to curb GHG emissions from heavy trucks, primarily through fuel economy standards. This new effort challenges EU lawmakers to decrease their own GHG emissions.

Carnegie Europe and Edelman | The Centre co-sponsored an event to explore U.S. and EU policies to cap and regulate global truck GHG emissions. Panelists included Carnegie’s Deborah Gordon, Philip Owen of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action, and Manfred Schuckert of Daimler AG.  Edelman | The Centre’s Martin Porter moderated.

Discussion Highlights

  • The EU Situation: One panelist described Europe’s trucking industry as rampant. More than 70 percent of EU freight is hauled by trucks and major EU heavy-duty vehicles (HDV) manufacturers account for an estimated 40 percent of global production. Another panelist added that while freight growth is necessary for societal and economic growth, it is also crucial to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Steps Taken in the EU: In an effort to curb HDV GHG emissions, EU heads of state committed to reduce emissions 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, stated one panelist. In March 2011, EU institutions began carving a roadmap for a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050, aiming for an 80 percent reduction in emissions. The European Commission also released the White Paper on transport, calling for a 20 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 and 60 percent reduction by 2050.
  • Steps Taken in the United States: U.S. efforts to tackle HDV GHG emissions include Smartway, an Environmental Protection Agency program established in 2004 to assist shipping companies in improving efficiency by certifying various components on tractors and trailers, explained a panelist. In 2010, the United States adopted and expanded upon Japan’s simulation model for engine-specific standards and vehicle certification.
  • Building on EU Policy: One panelist argued that efforts to create more efficient vehicles, combined with efforts to institute cleaner energy, further innovation, and more optimal use of transport networks, can begin to tackle GHG related issues. Another recommended enacting policies that will protect public health, reduce climate forcing, and enhance energy and economic security, while maintaining EU competitiveness through the production of fuel-efficient HDVs.

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