With growing numbers of hauliers looking to switch to liquid natural gas (LNG) trucks, researchers say they are as bad for the environment as diesel trucks are.
Leading clean transport campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) says that LNG lorries are a ‘dead-end’ for cutting climate emissions and emit more cancer-causing particles than manufacturers claim.
The group commissioned independent on-road tests and say that only zero-emissions trucks, such as battery-electric vehicles, should be supported by lawmakers.
It called for gas fuelling stations to be kicked out of EU fuel infrastructure targets and generous government subsidies for LNG trucks in all EU countries should be ended.
Iveco S-Way LNG emits more greenhouse gases than its diesel truck
The research found that Iveco’s S-Way LNG truck emits 13.4% more greenhouse gases than its Stralis diesel truck over a 20-year timeframe.
As methane has a far greater warming impact than CO2 in the 20 years after its release, the recent IPCC report said rapidly reducing it is crucial to avoiding ‘catastrophic temperature rises’.
The gas truck’s emissions savings at the tailpipe are negligible, according to the Technical University of Graz, which tested for exhaust CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.
The LNG truck is also far worse for cancer-causing particle emissions in cities and rural driving.
In tests, it emitted 37 times more particles (PN) – including ultrafine particles which penetrate deep into the body and are linked with brain tumours – than those that are measured in official tests.
And while the gas truck performed better than the diesel for NOx emissions, it did not deliver the 90% savings that the truck maker claims.
‘LNG trucks are held up as saviours of air quality’
Fedor Unterlohner, freight manager at T&E, said: “LNG trucks are held up as saviours of air quality, but tests show they pollute far more than manufacturers claim.
“They are also a lot worse than diesel for the smallest and most harmful particles, including in city driving, where they are used for deliveries.”
He added: “Ultimately, gas trucks are just another fossil fuel technology that can never clean up freight.”
T&E analysed methane venting and upstream greenhouse gas emissions. Over a 100-year timeframe, when methane is much less potent, the LNG truck emits just 7.5% less than the diesel.
‘Gas trucks are a dead-end for cutting emissions’
Mr Unterlohner said: “Gas trucks are a dead-end for cutting emissions and will even exacerbate the climate crisis today.
“Only emissions-free vehicles are capable of decarbonising trucking. It’s time for gas fuelling stations to be dropped from the EU’s infrastructure targets and for governments to stop incentivising the purchase of LNG trucks.”
The T&E analysis also found that powering Europe’s trucks with renewable gas is not an option.
Demand for biomethane by trucks in the six largest European countries would far outstrip the amount available, even with generous subsidies, the group says.