CO2-differentiated road charges for HGVs

In several European countries (e.g. Germany, Austria, Poland) HGV road charging schemes are in place. Currently, a differentiation of these charges to the CO2 emissions of a truck is not allowed by the Eurovignette Directive. On behalf of Transport & Environment, CE Delft performed a scoping study on the desirability and feasibility of CO2-differentation in HDV road charging schemes, as well as on the options to actually design such a differentiation. The main conclusions of our study are:

  • Differentiating HGV road charges to CO2 emissions could be a good policy instrument to reduce HGV’s CO2 emissions, particularly as there is little support for other potential instruments. Experiences with differentiation of HGV road charges to EURO standards show that such schemes can be effective.
  • In case in the future CO2-differentiated road charging will be allowed, it is recommended to harmonise the methodology for it at the EU level. This will increase its effectiveness (HGV owners receive the same incentive in all countries), safeguard the internal market and reduce the administrative burden to international hauliers.
  • The implementation of CO2-differentiated road charges seems (technically) feasible, although some significant challenges have to overcome to guarantee a fair and effective system. The most important ones are the unavailability of certified emission values for older trucks, the inclusion of trailers and aerodynamic devices (for which no certified emission values are available) and the choice of the emission value on which the charge will be based (several emission values are available for each individual truck). Options to deal with these issues are discussed in the report.
  • Including a CO2-based component in existing road charging schemes can be done in myriad ways, all with their own pros and cons. Some of the design issues discussed in the report are: the metric used for the road charges, continuous vs. step-based differentiation of performance and the possibility to apply a differentiation between vehicle categories.