Green freight package: Council adopts its position on the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions of transport services

To support Europe’s shift towards greener transport and achieve the EU’s objectives towards climate neutrality, the Council adopted its common position (general approach) on new rules for the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions of transport services.

Main objectives of the proposal

Submitted as part of the ‘greening freight transport’ legislative package, the draft regulation mainly aims to improve the calculation and information on the greenhouse gas emissions of transport services so that customers can choose the most sustainable transport options.

The draft regulation sets out a common regulatory framework, based on an ISO standard, for greenhouse gas emissions accounting of transport services across the entire multimodal transport chain, thus creating a level playing field between modes, segments, and the EU’s national networks. The draft regulation does not make greenhouse gas emissions calculation or reporting mandatory but requires complying with the regulation when disclosing data or if such calculation and disclosure are required by applicable national law. It is designed to support companies that calculate and report greenhouse gas emissions of their transport operations on a voluntary or contractual basis, or when required by other specific measures taken by industry and public authorities.

The Council’s main amendments

The general thrust of the Commission’s proposal was retained in the Council’s common position. The Council introduced, however, some amendments to the proposal, mainly aiming to:

  • prevent duplication of rules for the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions under several pieces of EU legislation
  • facilitate implementation of the regulation by SMEs
  • establish comprehensive and precise databases of default values for emission intensity and emission factors
  • allow member states to apply stricter rules on domestic transport operations, except those carried out by SMEs.

Finally, the Council has also amended certain empowerments of the Commission so that member states will be closely involved in the implementation of the regulation.

Next steps

Following today’s adoption of the Council’s negotiating mandate (general approach), the incoming presidency will be able to enter talks with the European Parliament (‘trilogues’) once the latter agrees its own position.

Background information

The draft regulation on the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions of the transport services forms part of the ‘greening freight transport’ legislative package, proposed by the Commission in the context of the European climate law to improve the performance of freight transport and contribute to achieve EU’s climate neutrality by 2050. The specific proposal is an important element of the transport sector’s contribution to this objective. It has been structured into seven main policy areas:

  • Methodology: the new ISO standard 14083:2023 was chosen as being the most relevant and proportionate in achieving EU objectives. This standard is recognised worldwide, thus creating the opportunity for global alignment
  • Input data and sources: to ensure comparable and accurate greenhouse gas emissions calculation outputs, the use of primary data should be prioritised. A core EU database of default values should be created, with other relevant databases and datasets run by third parties should be allowed, on the condition that they undergo a specific quality check at EU level
  • Applicability: the draft regulation imposes the requirement to use the common framework only when an entity providing or organising a transport service chooses or is mandated by other means to both calculate and disclose greenhouse gas emissions data for this service
  • Greenhouse gas emissions output data and transparency: setting appropriate harmonised metrics for generating and sharing the greenhouse gas emissions data and laying down common rules on the communication and transparency of emissions accounting results
  • Implementation support: providing for a harmonised implementation of this initiative in different transport segments, notably through general guidelines clarifying and explaining certain parts of the initiative to the different stakeholders
  • Conformity: ensuring a common and reliable verification system for the data on greenhouse gas emissions of transport services and for the underlying calculation processes for large entities, while allowing SMEs to use the verification voluntarily
  • Complementary measures – the use of external calculation tools is allowed, on the condition that these are formally certified

On 12 July 2023, the Commission submitted this proposal together with two draft regulations on the weights and dimensions for heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) and on a more efficient use of railway capacity. The legislative package was completed with the presentation of the combined transport directive (CTD) by the Commission on 7 November 2023.