By Richard Lough
STRASBOURG, Nov 14 (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers on Wednesday backed the region's first ever curbs on carbon dioxide emissions from trucks, calling for a cut of at least 35 percent by 2030, despite protests from manufacturers.
A 20 percent reduction in CO2 pollution from trucks by 2025 was also voted through the European Parliament to combat global warming, despite less ambitious limits proposed by the EU executive in May.
The EU currently has no limits on heavy-duty vehicles, which account for almost one quarter of the bloc's transport-related emissions.
"The Parliament is sending a clear signal that it's serious on reducing CO2 emissions," said Bas Eickhout, a Green lawmaker responsible for seeing the bill through the European Parliament.
The proposal, passed by 373 to 285 votes, aims to set tougher reduction targets from 2019 levels than the 30 percent cut by 2030 proposed by the European Commission.
The bloc's 28 governments must still agree on the final law, with talks between environment ministers on Dec. 20 expected to be tough as nations with big automotive industries fear stricter rules could hamper growth and cost jobs.
If a common position is reached among EU governments in December, negotiations between the EU's three lawmaking institutions on the final targets would start early next year.
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) has lobbied for far lower targets of 7 percent by 2025 and 16 percent by 2030.
ACEA head Erik Jonnaert said lawmakers "seem to be blatantly ignoring the fact that the potential for electrifying the truck fleet is far lower than for cars."
Volkswagen's (VW) truck brand MAN earlier this month warned the new CO2 limits could cost tens of thousands of jobs. "It is completely overshooting the mark," MAN's works council chief Saki Stimoniaris said.
VW's admission to U.S. regulators in 2015 that it had masked tailpipe exhaust in as many as 11 million diesel cars has galvanized EU regulators into setting tougher climate rules.
The rules backed by Parliament on Wednesday also set a review of the targets by the end of 2022. They can then be revised up or down, depending on progress toward the bloc's emissions reduction goals.
The draft rules set benchmarks for zero and low-emissions heavy duty vehicles to account for at least 5 percent of truckmakers' total sales by 2025, and 20 percent by 2030.
Curbs on the transport sector, the only one in which emissions are still rising, aim to help the bloc meet its overall goal of reducing greenhouse gases by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 under the Paris climate accord.
Extreme temperatures across the northern hemisphere this summer have fuelled concerns climate change is gathering pace, leading some countries to call for emissions to be cut at a faster rate than planned.
EU leaders last month expressed deep concern over a U.N. report calling for rapid and unprecedented action to contain global warming. (Writing and reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Alissa de Carbonnel; Additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Adrian Croft and Mark Potter)