Europe’s growing transport demand increases emissions from heavy-duty vehicles


Greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty vehicles — trucks, buses and coaches — have increased in the European Union (EU) almost every year since 2014, mainly due to increasing demand for freight transport. According to a European Environment Agency (EEA) briefing, published today, efficiency improvements have not been enough to stop growth in total emissions and a shift to greener transport modes is needed.

The EEA briefing Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty vehicles in Europe presents comprehensive data and analysis on greenhouse gas emissions from trucks, buses, and coaches in European road transport. The EEA has also published data on carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption of newly registered heavy-duty vehicles (LINK), which will be used in future analysis.

According to the EEA briefing, greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty vehicles increased by about 29 % from 1990 to 2019. These vehicles are currently responsible for about a quarter of total road transport emissions in the EU. Moreover, emissions from heavy-duty vehicles have increased every year since 2014, except for the 2020 decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EEA analysis shows that the efficiency gains that have been achieved in vehicles and transport operations have been outpaced by the growing demand for freight transport, ultimately leading to continued growth in emissions.

To reduce total emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency need to continue, but further efforts are also necessary. Shifting freight transport from road to rail and passenger transport from cars to buses and coaches offers an important pathway to emissions reductions. Further, reducing the number of trips or their length are important measures to reduce overall emissions, the EEA briefing notes.

The EU Member States have committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050, and the European Green Deal seeks a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transport, compared with 1990 level.

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