COP27: United States and Ukraine become signatories to agreement to increase numbers of zero-emission heavy road transport vehicles

Ten more countries have given their support to a Dutch initiative for cleaner heavy road transport vehicles like buses and lorries. The countries in question are Ukraine, The United States, Aruba,  Belgium, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, Curacao, Croatia, Liechtenstein and Lithuania. Today they signed an agreement to aim to ensure that all new lorries and buses from 2040 onwards in their countries are zero-emission vehicles, running on electricity or hydrogen for example. This is the next step towards ensuring all vehicles on the roads are zero-emission by 2050. Twenty six countries in total have now signed the agreement.

Clean vehicles mean fewer emissions

Heavy road transport plays a vital role in transporting goods and people. And the Netherlands is a major transport hub. However, heavy road transport also causes a significant amount of pollution. In fact, it is responsible for more than third of carbon emissions and 70% of nitrogen emissions from all road transport. It also produces a significant amount of harmful gases which people breathe in.

The Netherlands had already expressed its intention to ensure that all heavy road transport is zero-emission by 2050. Given that the average lifespan of a lorry is around ten years, this means that all new heavy road transport vehicles will need to be zero-emission from 2040 onwards. At COP26 in Glasgow last year, the Netherlands launched an agreement to this effect. Today, ten new countries signed up to that agreement.

‘It’s great that this agreement is really gaining momentum and that more and more countries are signing up,’ says Minister for the Environment Vivianne Heijnen. ‘Together, we can make the difference. By sending a clear signal to the market that, in the near future, there’ll be more options for transport companies wishing to make the switch to electric or hydrogen vehicles. That’s good for them and good for the climate. I’d like to call on other countries to join us in this endeavour.’

Global cooperation vital

In addition to the 26 countries that have already signed up, a large number of states, banks, companies and heavy goods vehicle manufactures have also become signatories. Examples include California, DHL, Heineken, Scania and BYD. One pressing issue that signatories are working together on is the question of how to bridge the price gap between diesel and electric or hydrogen vehicles. At present, the difference is still significant, which means that businesses are reluctant to make the switch. The Netherlands has a grant scheme for the purchase of zero-emission lorries. And in India, where a state is a co-signatory to the agreement, major contract award procedures for electric buses are financed with private money, which is also helping to close the price gap.

Climate agreement

The Netherlands wants all road transport to be zero-emission by 2050. That has been set out in the National Climate Agreement. In order to achieve this, all new cars will need to be zero-emission by around 2030 and all heavy transport by around 2040. As more countries pursue similar aims, there will be a greater incentive for manufacturers to offer cleaner models of buses and lorries. This will create more choice and mean that making the switch to a cleaner alternative becomes cheaper. One challenge in this regard is ensuring that enough infrastructure like charging points and hydrogen refuelling stations are built. The Netherlands is working hard on this, both at home and in an EU context. Minister Heijnen expects to announce a grant scheme for hydrogen refuelling stations later this year.

Participating countries
In addition to the Netherlands, the following countries are signatories to the agreement: Aruba, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Curacao, Croatia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Finland, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Switzerland Türkiye, Ukraine, Uruguay, the United Kingdom, the United States and Wales.