Ten more countries have supported 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 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 road vehicles 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 central transport hub. However, heavy road transport also causes a significant amount of pollution. It is responsible for more than a 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 has already expressed its intention to ensure that all heavy road transport is zero-emission by 2050. The average lifespan of a lorry is around ten years, so 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 for 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, many states, banks, companies, and heavy goods vehicle manufacturers have also become signatories. Examples include California, DHL, Heineken, Scania, and BYD. One pressing issue that signatories are working on is how to bridge the price gap between diesel and electric or hydrogen vehicles. The difference is still significant, meaning businesses are reluctant to 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.
The Netherlands wants all road transport to be zero-emission by 2050. That has been set out in the National Climate Agreement. All new cars will need zero-emission by around 2030 and all heavy transport by about 2040. As more countries pursue similar aims, manufacturers will be incentivized to offer cleaner models of buses and lorries. This will create more choices and make switching to a cleaner alternative cheaper. One challenge is ensuring that enough infrastructure, like charging points and hydrogen refueling stations, is built. The Netherlands is working hard on this at home and in an EU context. Minister Heijnen expects to announce a grant scheme for hydrogen refueling stations later this year.
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.