Transport logistics and climate protection: legal framework and opportunities for electric mobility

Transport logistics and climate protection: legal framework and opportunities for electric mobility

Transport logistics plays a crucial role in reducing CO₂ emissions and protecting the climate. germany and the european union have introduced extensive laws and regulations in recent years to promote the shift to more environmentally friendly technologies. this article provides an overview of the most important legislative changes and explains why switching to electric mobility is not only ecologically but also economically beneficial for transport companies.

Legal framework in Germany

Truck Toll

Introduction of CO₂ differentiation in truck tolls

On December 1, 2023, Germany introduced CO₂ differentiation in the truck toll. This means that the toll rate per kilometer now also depends on how much CO₂ a vehicle emits. The CO₂ surcharge is based on a price of 200 euros per ton of CO₂. This differentiation increases the cost of using high-emission trucks, thereby promoting the use of more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Toll exemption for zero-emission trucks

Electric trucks will be exempt from tolls until the end of 2025. From 2026, they will only have to pay 25 % of the partial toll rate for infrastructure charges and the partial toll rates for noise and air pollution. This scheme is designed to incentivize investment in zero-emission technologies and significantly reduce CO2 emissions in the transport sector.

Extension of toll obligation to trucks over 3.5 tons

From July 1, 2024, the truck toll obligation will be extended to vehicles with a technical permissible maximum mass of more than 3.5 tons. This means that lighter commercial vehicles, previously exempt from tolls, will now be included. However, craft vehicles under 7.5 tons will remain exempt from the toll to reduce their economic burden.

Promotion of charging infrastructure

The federal government supports the development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure for electric commercial vehicles. This includes the installation of charging points at strategically important locations such as depots, company yards and hubs. These measures ensure that vehicles can be efficiently charged at any time and place, significantly improving the operational readiness and range of electric trucks. In addition, the charging infrastructure along major traffic axes and highways is being expanded to ensure the long-distance suitability of electric trucks.

Support for zero-emission vehicles and public fleets

Under the "Special Program for Special Transport" special vehicles are specifically promoted to support their market preparation and market launch. This includes, for example, garbage trucks, street sweepers and other municipal vehicles. Additionally, from 2030 onwards, only balance-sheet emission-free vehicles will be procured for public transport as part of public procurement. This measure aims to accelerate emission reductions in urban areas and serve as a role model for other sectors.

Learn more about the new immediate program for transport logistics here.

Increased efficiency for trailers and semitrailers

The fleet renewal program for heavy commercial vehicles will be designed purely as a component subsidy in the future. This means that the purchase of CO₂-reducing additional equipment for new trailers and semi-trailers will be financially supported. Aerodynamic improvements, lightweight construction and energy-efficient technologies can unlock significant efficiency reserves and reduce energy consumption.

Legal framework in the European Union

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

On January 5, 2023, the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) came into force. This directive tightens and modernizes the requirements for sustainability reporting by companies in the EU. The CSRD obliges not only large companies but also listed small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and certain non-EU companies with a turnover of more than 150 million euros in the EU to report on sustainability.

Objectives of the CSRD

  • Access to information for stakeholders: Ensuring that investors and other stakeholders have the necessary data to assess the social and environmental impact of companies.
  • Harmonization of reporting: Uniform standards to reduce reporting costs and facilitate comparisons between companies.
  • Transparency and reliability: Promoting transparent and trustworthy reporting.

The new reporting obligations apply from the 2024 financial year, with reports to be published in 2025. The CSRD strengthens sustainability reporting in the EU, increases transparency and accountability, and supports the transition to a more sustainable economy.

Emissions trading system (ETS)

The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is the world's largest system for emissions trading scheme and a key instrument of the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It covers approximately 40 % of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions and operates on the "cap and trade" principle. Companies can buy and sell emission allowances, which entitle them to emit a certain amount of CO2. If a company emits less than its allocated allowances, it can sell the excess allowances. Conversely, a company that emits more must buy additional allowances. This makes climate protection financially rewarding.

Reforms and Extensions

The EU-ETS has been reformed several times to increase its effectiveness. Important measures include the introduction of the Market Stability Reserve (MSR) to reduce price volatility and the increase of the annual reduction rate of the emissions cap. From 2027, this system will be extended to road transport.

Impact on Road Transport

The inclusion of road transport in the EU-ETS means that CO₂ emissions from trucks, buses, and other commercial vehicles will be regulated and priced. This will lead to higher operating costs for companies that continue to use fossil fuels and create strong incentives to switch to low-emission or emission-free vehicles.

Stricter CO₂ emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles

In 2019, CO₂ standards were introduced for certain heavy-duty vehicles with target values set for 2025 to 2029 and beyond 2030. The EU Council has now issued new regulations on CO₂ emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles to increase the share of emission-free vehicles and significantly reduce CO₂ emissions from road transport. These regulations are part of the broader EU climate goals, which aim to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The updated regulations set new CO₂ reduction targets from 2025:

  • By 2030: 45 % reduction (up from the previous 30 %)
  • By 2035: 65 % reduction
  • By 2040: 90 % reduction

These standards apply to nearly all new heavy-duty vehicles, including smaller trucks, city buses, coaches, and trailers. For city buses, a 100 % emission-free target is set by 2035, with an interim goal of 90 % by 2030. This comprehensive regulation aims to ensure that a larger part of the vehicle fleet contributes to CO₂ emission reductions.

The current revision of these regulations is part of the "Fit for 55" legislative package, which aims to set the EU on the path to climate neutrality.

Disclosure obligations for truck manufacturers: emissions in production and consumption

A new study by Transport & Environment (T&E) shows that European truck manufacturers' emissions are 50 % higher than they report to investors. This discrepancy particularly affects indirect emissions, known as Scope 3, which were previously not required to be reported. Scope 3 includes emissions that occur throughout a vehicle's lifecycle, including when the truck is used by the end user.

From fiscal year 2024, a new EU regulation will require truck manufacturers to fully report their emissions, including Scope 3 emissions. This reporting is critical because the average truck consumes approximately 450,000 liters of fuel over its lifetime, which accounts for 99.8 % of a truck manufacturer's total carbon footprint (Source: T&E).

Promotion of electric mobility and infrastructure

The EU supports the switch to emission-free technologies with extensive funding programs. Investments in charging infrastructure and sustainable transport technologies are promoted to accelerate the expansion of electric mobility. Programs such as the "Connecting Europe Facility" (CEF) and the "Recovery and Resilience Facility" (RRF) play an important role in this. Additionally, cooperation within the EU facilitates cross-border transport and the development of a unified and efficient charging infrastructure.

Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR)

At the European level, the federal government supports the EU regulation on the development of infrastructure for alternative fuels (AFIR). The Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) aims to promote the development of infrastructure for alternative fuels in the European Union. It sets standards for charging stations and promotes investments in this infrastructure. AFIR emphasizes interoperability between charging stations to enable seamless charging of electric vehicles. Member states must regularly report on the progress of development to monitor advancements. AFIR is part of the EU's efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and minimize the environmental impact of the transport sector. It will significantly improve market acceptance and the proliferation of emission-free trucks and buses.

Why electric mobility is key

Tighter regulations and the rising cost of fossil fuels are making the switch to electric mobility increasingly attractive. Zero-emission trucks benefit from significant cost savings in tolls and government subsidies. In addition, the use of electric vehicles reduces dependence on fossil fuels and makes a significant contribution to achieving climate goals. Legislation in Germany and the EU makes it clear that the path to a more sustainable transportation system is inevitable. Companies that switch to electric mobility early will not only benefit financially, but will also make an important contribution to climate protection. Therefore, the transition to electric mobility is not only a necessity, but also an opportunity for a sustainable and economically successful future in the transportation sector. With intelligent solutions such as charging and energy management from IO-Dynamics, you can make this transition efficiently and successfully.

Intelligent charging and energy management

The software developed by IO-Dynamics for intelligent charging and energy management enables demand-oriented and cost-efficient charging of electric vehicles such as electric trucks and buses. By considering various data sources such as building data, power grid data, and solar forecasts, the software makes optimal charging decisions, further reducing operating costs.

Make your operational e-mobility easier, more sustainable, and more cost-effective. Contact us now!

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