Heavy duty vehicles are responsible for 70% of total pollutant emissions from transport and make a major contribution to air quality problems in European cities.
The new standards set limits for new heavy-duty vehicles for particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and ammonia and should bring about substantial reductions in harmful emissions.
Jos Dings, director of T&E said: "The EU has done the right thing by getting these long-overdue standards agreed. But lorries have a nasty habit of looking a lot cleaner in the testing laboratory than in the real world. Close monitoring will be needed to ensure nitrogen oxides and other harmful emissions really go down."
The new legislation is significant for local authorities across Europe who are obliged to comply with EU air quality laws. The Air Quality Directive sets air pollution limit values for public authorities such as cities, to be implemented by 2008 with some exemptions possible until the end of 2011 at the latest.
"It is important to encourage the early enforcement of the EURO VI standards to help local authorities improve urban air quality and the quality of life of European citizens" said Dragomira Raeva, Policy Officer at EEB. "Member States should back the early introduction of Euro VI vehicles and retrofitting of existing vehicles with financial incentives."
"The EURO standards alone will not be enough to meet urban air quality targets. Local authorities will need to go beyond the minimum requirements for compliance with emission standards and support the introduction of clean vehicle technology and adopt wider mobility management practices, such as the designation of low emission zones in the cities."
2. The EU is still three to four years behind Japan and the United States on implementation of comparable next generation emissions controls which will come into force in those markets in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Heavy-duty vehicles offered for sale in Europe under the existing Euro V standards will be allowed to emit at least 50% more particulate matter (PM) and 185% more nitrogen oxides (NOx) than comparable vehicles sold in either Japan or the United States.