Urgent European measures in reducing transport pollution

Visits: 22

Although transport plays fundamental role in the European economic growth, the sector is at the same time one of the largest contributors to air pollution both in the EU and around the world. Recent Commission’s proposals to reduce damaging effects include the Euro 7 regulation to enter into effect in a couple of years; during this period the member states are supposed to make necessary preparations, which might be a complicated issue…  

   The general idea behind the Commission proposal, which appeared at the end of 2022, was deemed by experts as “politically correct”: i.e. transport sector is being one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in the EU member states. However, numerous socio-economic stimuli of the Euro 7 standards have to be analyzed in view of the increasing trends in ensuring both a clean and safety environment but prudent national socio-economic policies.
By the end of March 2023, the Council formally adopted new CO2 emissions standards for new cars and vans. The consequences are huge: since 2035, only new 100% electric and hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles for private and commercial use will be allowed for sale in the European market; besides, petrol, diesel, E85, LPG, CNG and hybrids, even rechargeable ones, will be banned from sale. This decision will have a major impact on an automotive industry on the European continent as it is presently generating over 12 million jobs (including nearly four hundred thousand only in France).
Source: https://www.robert-schuman.eu/en/doc/questions-d-europe/qe-670-en.pdf

    In November 2022, the Commission proposed a new emissions standard for road vehicles called Euro 7. The new rules will further reduce air pollution from new motor vehicles sold in the EU (both light-duty and heavy-duty) in line with the green deal’s zero-pollution ambition. They will apply for a much longer period of the life of a vehicle than before.
New standards will also regulate emissions from tyres and brakes for the first time worldwide. To support trends in motor-sectors’ electrification, the proposal also includes a new procedure and limits for the battery durability.
The Euro 7 standards would have most significant impact on the transport sector with the aim of minimizing carbon emissions by phasing out the production of combustion-engine cars by 2035; it will set stricter emission standards and introduce various emission control mechanisms.
The share of zero-emission-cars in the Baltic States has been at the level of one percent (as is the case most of the EU states); however, since 2019, there is a small growth of about 2 percent, with Latvia as a particular leader in the trend, and with the worst figures in Lithuania. The number of electric-vehicles in the 3 Baltic States is still around a miserable 0,3 percent!
Quite notable that the average age of cars in Europe is close to 12 years!

   Presently, trends are worrying in the Baltic States: e.g. the lack of customers’ “motivation instruments” to buy cleaner new cars, pay-back period for electric cars increased due to growing electricity prices, weak tax politics (lack of support instruments for electric-vehicle purchase and cheaper maintenance), low taxes for diesel vehicles), lack of strict technical requirements for old diesel cars, lack of developed infrastructure (charging stations) to change vehicle fleet to more sustainable transport, lack of charging points in micro districts and many other issues.

European “green deal” and transport
In relation to transport, it is known that the EU’s “green deal” sets an ambitious target: i.e. to reduce by 2050 transport emissions in the member states by 90 percent, compared to 1990. Currently, transport represents almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities.
Besides, the CO2 emissions from transport have been consistently increasing over the past years, in stark contrast with the trend in other sectors such as electricity generation. Other pollutant emissions from transport need to be drastically reduced too: such as nitrogen dioxide, NOx and particulate matter, which are the most significant causes of premature deaths in the Baltic States (e.g. in the EU-27 it is estimated more than 400,000 premature deaths each year, including 76,000 directly linked to nitrogen dioxide, NO2.
Source: https://transport.ec.europa.eu/transport-themes/clean-transport-urban-transport/alternative-fuels-sustainable-mobility-europe_en

    Changing the fuel base to low- and zero-emission alternative fuels is one important element of the member states “green transition”, including countries in the Baltic Sea area. Some of these alternative fuels require the roll-out of new infrastructure for refueling and recharging, as is envisaged in the Euro 7 requirements.
The shift to electric mobility will bring important improvements to air quality for people: hence, the EU-wide CO2-emissions standards and Euro 7 norms work hand in hand to ensure that more vehicles are clean and affordable on the European roads.
Especially in cities, where the air quality need additional safety measures; in this regard, the new Euro 7 standards is going to make a difference and deliver. The EU introduced more precise emissions testing that affect real driving conditions; there are additional measures to regulate pollutants like ammonia, to reduce smog in cities and limit the release of micro-plastics from tyres. Together with the supplemented CO2-standards for trucks and buses, the new Euro 7 norms provide the right framework to get these kinds of heavy-duty vehicles on the road to zero-emissions.
It is expected that by 2035, Euro 7 will lower total NOx emissions from cars and vans by 35%, and by 56% compared to Euro 6 from buses and lorries. At the same time, particles from the tailpipe will be lowered by 13% from cars and vans, and 39% from buses and lorries, while particles from the brakes of a car will be lowered by 27%.
Reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_6495

Euro-7 proposal

  The Euro 7 emission standards are aimed at setting more ambitious limits for air pollutants; and here all existing and new technologies can help achieve that. The new standards will also ensure that vehicles remain clean for a much longer part of their lifetime. Emissions will be monitored by on-board sensors, making the periodic technical controls and compliance checks easier and ensuring that emissions will not increase disproportionately over time, even when these vehicles are exported to third countries.
More on emission regulation in the automotive sector in: https://single-market-economy.ec.europa.eu/sectors/automotive-industry/environmental-protection/emissions-automotive-sector_en

    EU’s co-legislative institutions reached a political agreement at the end of 2022 that after 2035, all new cars and vans on the European market must have zero tailpipe CO2 emissions. The shift to notably electric cars and vans will also produce benefits for air quality. However, cars and vans with internal combustion engines put in the market before the “final date” will stay on European roads at least for another decade or more.
More than 20% of cars and vans and more than 50% of the heavy-duty vehicles on the European streets are still expected to emit pollutants from the tailpipe up to 2050. Moreover, all vehicles both electric and/or mixed) need to emit less air pollutants, for example from brakes and tyres, which are on a pathway to become the major sources of particle emissions from vehicles.
For lorries and buses powered by internal combustion engines, a further proposal for the EU-wide legislation to reduce CO2 emissions is still in preparation. Similarly, as for cars and vans, the EU legislators have to ensure that lorries and buses are as clean as possible, irrespective of the shift to notably new electric vehicles that may follow upcoming CO2 norms.
The Euro 7 rules include both technology- and fuel-neutral components: it means that the same emission limits apply to all vehicles within the same category, regardless of the technology (for example, conventional internal combustion engine, hybrid or plug-in) or the fuel used (gasoline, diesel or others); the latter also apply to zero CO2 emission vehicles, both electric and/or fuel cell vehicles.
The Euro 7 rules will apply to both light-duty (cars and vans) and heavy-duty vehicles (lorries and buses) sold in the EU. The proposal merges the successor norms to Euro 6 (Regulation No 715/2007) and Euro VI (Regulation No 595/2009) into one single act.
Source: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_22_6496 / November 2022.

    According to the Commission’s proposal, the date for the entry into force of the new Euro 7 regulation is 1 July 2025 for new light-duty vehicles (cars and vans), and 1 July 2027 for new heavy-duty vehicles (lorries and buses). Limited exceptions apply to vehicles constructed by small volume manufacturers to take care of specific technology constraints.

Global view: economy vs. environment
It has been an age-old approach balancing nature/environment preservation and economic growth; with both sides winning from time to time. However, increasing poverty in the world, which is exceeding seven hundred millions presently, shows that the controversy is far from over as about half of global population (around 3 billion) “cook with traditional fuels endangering health through indoor pollution”; poor countries and population suffers most.
Former World Bank senior vice-president, V. Thomas acknowledges that issue of climate mitigation versus adaptation is more complicated than it used to be seen: transition to low-carbon energy in low-income countries is much higher than in other parts of the world.
Thus, he notes” “The differentiation of low-income nations in this respect is quite apart from the issue of climate justice that asks that high-income nations bear the brunt of the mitigation costs everywhere: about 74 of the poorest member countries of the International Development Association account for less than 10 percent of the GHGs but are hardest hit by climate change”.

     Reference and citation from: Thomas V. The truth about climate action versus economic growth, in: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2023/05/03/the-truth-about-climate-action-versus-economic-growth/ May 3, 2023. As the author postulates, seeing growth and poverty reduction as complementary to nature protection and climate action would need sufficient political-economy analysis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twenty + 18 =