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Home News EU lawmakers to incentivise cleaner trucks with lower road tolls

EU lawmakers to incentivise cleaner trucks with lower road tolls

European hauliers will have the chance to cut their costs, if they choose to drive trucks that reduce carbon and air pollution, according to a new tolling system agreed by European Union (EU) lawmakers on 15 June.

Under the new tolling system, from 2023 emissions-free trucks will get at least half off road tolls, while fossil-fuel trucks will be charged based on their CO2 emission and air pollution, with more efficient heavy-goods vehicles paying less.

The annual tolling costs can reach up to €25,000 (US$30,000) per truck, or one-quarter of the total cost of owning and running the vehicle. But zero-emission trucks, electric and hydrogen, will get at least a 50% discount on tolls by April 2023, under the new legislation.

"Today’s agreement on road pricing, with stronger and wider rules and a new scheme to address CO2 emissions, is a crucial element in decarbonising transport and meeting climate targets in line with the European Green Deal and the Paris Agreement," said Pedro Nuno Santos, Portuguese Minister for Infrastructure and Housing.

Transport & Environment (T&E) believes the new Eurovignette law will accelerate the transition to zero-emissions freight and help clean up the air. "Making the polluter pay is a watershed for green freight. Fossil-fuel trucks will have to pay more if they emit more, and hauliers who switch to emissions-free vehicles will slash their costs. The incentive to cut air pollution from heavy-goods vehicles will be particularly felt in our choked cities," commented James Nix, freight policy manager at T&E.

EU countries can even give discounts of up to 100% for zero-emissions lorries, as is already the case in Germany, until the end of 2025. After 2025, countries can offer discounts of between 50% and 75%.

The rail sector also sees benefits from this reform, according to T&E, as Member States will need to introduce revenue-neutral CO2 charges, or apply an external cost for CO2, while air pollution charges become mandatory, making rail a more attractive solution.

Additionally, air pollution charges for trucks must be applied where distance-based tolling is used. Today only four member states charge trucks for their air pollutants. T&E noted making air pollution charges mandatory is a comprehensive victory for the long-standing aim to recover costs from activity that damages human health and the environment.

Countries with toll roads under concession contracts can exempt these tolls from both CO2 and air pollution based-charging, but only until these contracts are renewed or substantially amended.

Trucks are responsible for 23% of the EU’s CO2 emissions from road transport and, according to data from Copenhagen, London and Paris, more than 20% of road vehicle NOx emissions.

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