• EU rules widely ignored as MEPs vote on Euro-5

    MEPs look set to approve a delay in vehicle emissions legislation just as damning new evidence is emerging at how EU efforts to improve air quality and emissions are being ignored.

    As reported in the September Bulletin, the European Parliament’s environment committee voted to both delay and partly weaken the programme of Euro-5 emissions standards. If the full parliament approves this decision later this month, then a quick agreement will be reached without the need for second and third readings of the legislation.

    T&E has called on MEPs to reject the proposals, which will delay Euro-5 standards until 2009 or 2010, and Euro-6 standards until 2014-15. Euro-5 will require all new diesel cars to have particle filters fitted, while Euro-6 can probably only be met with NOx filters.

    Yet a new survey shows that a number of European cities are failing to comply with EU air quality standards.

    The survey on air quality standards comes from the Italian research institute Ambiente Italia. It shows that only three of the 26 large European cities it investigated are in full compliance with EU air quality standards.

    Using 20 environmental indicators such as air quality, pedestrian areas and public transport networks, it says only Helsinki, Göteborg and Heidelberg are doing what they should be. Most of the other 23 cities reported concentrations of microparticles (PM10) above prescribed limits for more than the permitted 35 days a year.

    T&E policy officer Aat Peterse said: “We are alarmed at the signal being sent out about the importance of air quality in the EU. MEPs will effectively be voting to slow the pace of change in the car industry, helping to create more ludicrous situations such as Mercedes having a car that meets US standards that won’t be on sale in Europe.”

    A leading chemical company making pollution reduction products says the Euro-5 and Euro-6 limits should be introduced far more quickly. Yara International says: “The relevant technology is at hand for further reductions of NOx emissions.”

    Meanwhile, the Commission has changed its mind about rejecting a Euro-6 NOx standard for diesels as governments and MEPs were preparing to introduce the standard anyway.


    The Commission looks set to reject a number of national allocation plans for the second phase of the European Emissions Trading Scheme (2008-12). The environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “Much to my regret, the first 17 NAPs propose a cap about 15% above emissions in 2005.”

    Earlier this month, WWF-Europe published its assessment of the six largest EU countries’ allocation plans for the second phase (2007-12) of the ETS. The environmental group says France’s plan shows “zero ambition”, and Poland’s planned 17% increase in allocations for the second phase as “Europe’s most ridiculous cap”.

    This news story is taken from the November 2006 edition of T&E Bulletin.