Estonia requests longer transition period for buses running on biomethane in EU

  • 2023-10-17
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – As a result of long negotiations, Estonia's proposal to allow city buses running on biomethane a longer transition period compared to the European Commission's proposal found support in the Environment Council of the European Union on Monday.

Thus, until 2035, local governments will be able to acquire, among other things, new city buses running on biomethane, while Estonian biomethane producers will have time to look for new uses for the fuel. As the next step, negotiations will continue in trilogues between the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, the Estonian Ministry of Climate said.

"Estonia stood for enabling the continued marketing of city buses running on biomethane, as biomethane is a fuel produced from waste, with which it is possible to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of the transport sector and also meet renewable energy, agricultural methane emission reduction and circular economy goals," Climate Minister Kristen Michal said.

Ministers approved a general approach in the Environment Council regarding changes to the CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles. The ministerial agreement would allow gas buses to be put on the market in the EU until 2035. As an intermediate goal, starting from 2030, manufacturers should reduce emissions from new city buses by 85 percent compared to 2019.

In addition, the European Commission will reassess in 2027 the reasonableness of achieving the target levels set for city buses by the member states, among other things in the context of investments made in biomethane infrastructure. The Estonian state together with companies have invested about 150 million euros in the development of biomethane. There are currently 27 biomethane filling stations and over 600 gas buses operating on city and county routes in Estonia.

At the same time, the possibility of expanding the use of biomethane as a fuel for other heavy-duty vehicles would remain. Manufacturers should reduce emissions from the entire heavy-duty fleet by 45 percent from 2030, 65 percent from 2035, and 90 percent from 2040 compared to 2019. In the long term, the Commission sees the potential of biomethane in those sectors where it is even more difficult to reduce CO2 emissions.

The purpose of amending the regulation is to cost-effectively reduce the CO2 emissions of heavy-duty vehicles, bring more energy-efficient vehicles to the market, and strengthen the leading position of EU manufacturers and suppliers as technology developers. Negotiations will continue in trilogues between the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament.