The European Union has adopted legislation that gives member states until 2024 to implement a new road toll system that offers discounts of at least 50% on distance-based road tolls as an incentive for zero-emission trucks.
“This is a watershed for green trucking. 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,” said James Nix, freight policy manager at Brussels-based Transport & Environment. “But the clock is ticking on national governments to have the cleaner, fairer system in place on time. Europe cannot wait any longer to tackle this major source of emissions.”
The new law, which parliamentarians adopted on February 17, will help to cut down the 23% of road transport emissions generated by trucks in the EU. Zero-emission trucks receiving the incentive can be either battery electric or hydrogen, and member states can choose to levy their own emissions-based charges on fossil fuel lorries instead, or implement both measures. The incentives will create significant savings for hauliers, who generally pay up to €25,000 per year per truck in road toll fees, T&E says in a release.
The law further encourages the shift to green trucking by requiring countries to apply air pollution charges to fossil fuel trucking beginning in 2026. That represents “a big step towards recovering the full costs of trucking’s impact on human health and the environment,” T&E writes.
The new law allows countries with toll roads under concession contracts to exempt those routes from CO2- and air pollution-based charges until the contracts are renewed or substantially amended.