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Home Decarbonisation Campaign European Union adopts new tolling rules for green trucking

European Union adopts new tolling rules for green trucking

Member states of the European Union (EU) will have to implement a new system of road tolls until 2023 which gives big incentives for zero-emission trucks as members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted to adopt new legislation.

Transport & Environment (T&E) hailed the updated Eurovignette law as a watershed for green trucking, which will benefit the climate, air quality and hauliers, while it also called on member states to start work on its implementation immediately.

By May 2023, hauliers operating zero-emissions trucks, battery-electric or hydrogen, must be given discounts of at least 50% on distance-based road tolls, according to the new legislation.

Additionally, member states could opt to levy extra carbon dioxide (CO2)-based charges on fossil fuel lorries instead or implement both measures.

With road tolls costing hauliers up to US$28,400 (€25,000) a year per truck, switching to zero-emissions vehicles will cut their overheads considerably.

"This is a watershed for green trucking," noted James Nix, freight policy manager at T&E, and went on to add, "Fossil-fuel trucks will finally have to pay more if they emit more, and hauliers who switch to emissions-free vehicles will slash their costs."

The new law also requires countries to apply air pollution charges for trucks from 2026, as currently, only four member states charge trucks for their air pollutants. From 2026 vans and minibuses will also need to be tolled based on their environmental performance.

T&E said that making these charges mandatory is a big step towards recovering the full costs of trucking’s impact on human health and the environment.

Furthermore, new time-based road charges for trucks from 2024, which are less fair than distance-based tolling, will be restricted to limited circumstances.

If time-based charges remain on major highways after April 2024, they must be varied according to the truck’s CO2 emissions.

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 climate emissions from road transport, according to data from United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and account for more than 20% of road vehicles’ emissions of poisonous nitrogen oxides (NOx).

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