Today two new car emissions tests come into force. They are: the new RDE (Real-Driving Emissions) test for diesel NOx emissions and particulate numbers from gasoline cars; and the new WLTP (World Light Duty Test Protocol) for CO2 emissions.
The introduction of the new car tests, the WLTP and RDE tests, marks an important milestone in the battle to ensure cars comply with environmental limits on the road and to end the cheating that has become endemic in emissions testing. But, as this briefing outlines, new tests are not a panacea and will need to be further refined to ensure they are really representative of how cars are driven. The forthcoming decisions on how and who approves cars for sale will be key to ensuring the system of approvals is independent and rigorously enforced.
The average car sits unused for more than 90% of the time, carries on average just one and a half people and costs on average €6,500 a year to own and run. Each car occupies 150m2 of urban land and still this is not enough – congestion costs the EU economy €100 billion annually. The convenience that made the car a 20th century icon has been eroded by its popularity.
Germany is in the grips of what may well be the largest cartel case in its industrial history. According to Der Spiegel, a German weekly, Volkswagen and Daimler have turned themselves in to the German and EU competition authorities. The alleged cartel included themselves BMW, Audi and Porsche, and dates back all the way to the 1990s. The news comes roughly a year after the European Commission fined EU truckmakers a record €2.9 billion for price fixing and collusion on emissions technology.
An attempt at a ‘clean’ diesel comeback in Germany this month has been wrecked by claims that the country’s carmakers ran a cartel to bring down the cost of various components and technology – including on cutting emissions.
The rising scepticism about a global measure to partially offset aviation emissions was underscored this month with MEPs demanding a review in 2019 of the UN’s voluntary scheme, known as CORSIA. The European Parliament environment committee’s call for the review highlights Europe’s need to maintain an environmentally meaningful and strengthened regional measure, T&E said. The committee also voted to strengthen the EU emissions trading system’s (ETS) provisions on aviation.
The UK will end sales of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040, the government has said in response to the threat to public health from rising levels of NOx emissions. The pledge follows a similar move in France and is part of the UK government’s clean air plan, which it was required to bring forward after a legal challenge by NGO Client Earth.
The European Commission has hinted that it might set quotas for carmakers to have a percentage of their fleet made up of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Brussels is working on a revision of CO2 limits from cars and vans, and comments from an official confirm that a ZEV quota is under consideration. T&E has welcomed the development.
A leaked letter shows the EU industry commissioner has issued a stark warning to transport ministers that the consequences of the Dieselgate scandal, and the failure to clean up dirty diesel cars still on our roads, are contributing to a city air pollution crisis. The leaked letter, seen by Transport & Environment (T&E), stresses the need for carmakers to “rapidly reduce” NOx emissions of the diesel fleet in Europe; and that in the absence of this cities are being increasingly forced to resort to “local diesel bans”.
Choked with toxic fumes, more and more cities across Europe are planning diesel bans. Even the iconic homes of Daimler and BMW, Stuttgart and Munich respectively, are considering the step in light of the high real-world emissions of nitrogen oxides. But German regional and national governments are striking back and partnering with the German car industry against the health of citizens to promote diesel as “clean”.