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Realistic real-world driving emissions tests: a last chance for diesel cars?

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Air pollution emissions limits for cars, vans and trucks (Euro Standards) have been progressively tightened, on paper, over 25 years but have failed to deliver real-world improvements for several key pollutants, notably nitrogen dioxide. This is because obsolete tests and “cycle beating” techniques have been used by carmakers leading to levels of emissions from some cars many times higher on the road than in laboratory tests. In October 2014, the Commission will be discussing progress and next steps with EU member states. This paper outlines key issues for member states to ensure that the new real-world (PEMS) tests are robust and representative of real-world driving in order for emissions to decline on the road. 

Draft proposal on pollutant emissions from NRMM

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The aim of the European legislation on pollutant emissions from Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) is to protect human health and the environment. This can only be achieved by strict emissions limits aligned with Euro VI emissions limits for trucks and buses. The Commission draft proposal for NRMM legislation must be reinforced to achieve its objectives and be coherent with the emissions legislation for road sources.

In this briefing T&E explains how, as it stands, the draft proposal on NRMM emissions is incoherent and worryingly weak, and will fail to adequately address the burden on health caused by the diesel exhaust from these machines.

Tackling real world emissions from cars

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Light duty vehicles (LDVs) emit more pollutants on the road than in laboratory conditions. In order to solve this problem the Commission decided to introduce complementary type-approval procedures to measure gaseous and particulate emissions during real driving to make sure that they are similar to legal emission limits. To achieve this, the Real-Driving Emissions-Light Duty Vehicles (RDE-LDV) working group was created in 2011. Work in this group is currently focused on RDE tests during initial type approval.

This paper has been prepared by T&E to aid the work of this group. The paper considers the main topics of discussion: data analysis methods, boundary conditions, conformity factor, equipment (portable emissions measurement system – PEMS) and scope.

Particle emissions from petrol cars

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Vehicle tests show that without the use of gasoline particulate filters (GPF) the number of particles emitted from gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines is likely to exceed future European emissions limits, known as Euro 6 standards. Nowadays, particle emissions from these new petrol engines are higher than equivalent diesel vehicles. The cost of a filter to eliminate particle emissions is low (around €40), with no fuel economy penalty. Despite this, carmakers are delaying fitting filters on GDI cars and instead rely on manipulating tests. Their reluctance is worsening urban air pollution and reducing the health benefits of the new limits.

Tackling emissions from diesel machines

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European air pollution rules for diesel machines such as bulldozers, excavators and barges are much more lax than those for cars and lorries. As well as this, some engine types and older machines are excluded from air pollution law. This is a problem because, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), diesel exhaust is carcinogenic. Ambitious, comprehensive and consistent rules are needed to limit air pollution emissions from non-road mobile machinery (NRMM - diesel machines). These are required to address the growing urban air pollution that Europe faces. T&E believes that future EU legislation on diesel machines must be in line with emissions limits for equivalent road vehicles.

GHG emissions from ships: the MRV proposal

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Shipping is the only sector without an EU cap on emissions. In 2009, the EU committed to include shipping in its climate policy but instead the Commission proposed last year only to monitor CO2 emissions. This briefing outlines why T&E believes the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) proposal is a step in the right direction but lacks ambition and will have little impact if left unchanged. It explains why the MRV system should be broadened to also include SOx and NOx, and why unreliable monitoring methods should be removed and data transparency ensured.

NOx emissions from shipping: Where are we? What are the perspectives?

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At its 65th session, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) reached an agreement in principle to postpone the international NOx emissions limits for new ships from 2016 to 2021. This IMO decision needs to be confirmed by vote at the next MEPC meeting in April 2014. This briefing outlines why T&E believes a strict NOx standard for shipping should not be delayed. International shipping is currently responsible for 50,000 premature deaths annually in Europe.

TEN-T Guidelines and Connecting Europe Facility: Recommendations for sustainable transport spending

This briefing from BirdLife Europe, CEE Bankwatch, Friends of the Earth Europe, T&E and WWF explains how EU transport spending under the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programmes could be made more effective, economically viable and sustainable.A full-length version of this analysis is also available.

Smarter trucks: better, not bigger

The European Commission is considering a change in the interpretation of its legislation on so-called megatrucks.  Under the new interpretation, the cross-border circulation of megatrucks, which is currently prohibited, would be allowed. This decision would have a negative impact on road safety and infrastructure and would drastically impact on the competitive position of the rail freight sector, without any benefits for the environment.

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