There is a lot of evidence that poor air quality is bad for your health and life expectancy. In short, pollution kills. Air pollution is responsible for 370 000 premature deaths in Europe each year, more than occur in road accidents. Air pollution especially affects the youngest and the oldest and people with heart and lung diseases – both among most common causes of death in Europe. It also causes health problems like asthma attacks and increases hospital admissions and days off sick.
The health damage caused by air pollution is estimated to cost the European economy between €427 and €790 billion per year.
Air quality has improved over the past decade but there are still significant air quality problems throughout the European Union, especially in urban areas and in densely populated regions. Significant negative health and environmental impacts will continue to persist even with effective implementation of current legislation.
The impact assessment has demonstrated that further reduction of emission limits for heavy duty vehicles – Euro VI- is necessary to improve air quality while at the same time retaining the functioning of the internal market.
The result will be a considerable improvement in air quality while, at the same time reducing the cost of engine development and testing. In fact, the proposal will enable manufacturers to produce highly environmentally friendly engines. It will also enable Member States to fulfill the requirements of the Air Quality Directive.
European emission standards mark out the tolerable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in EU member states, which are defined in European Union series of directives, each amendments to the 1970 Directive 70/220/EEC. While the standards for passenger cars are defined by vehicle driving distance, g/km, for HGV they are defined by engine energy output, g/kWh, and therefore are not comparable
Emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), total hydrocarbon (THC), non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and particulate matter (PM) are regulated for all land vehicle types and barges, but excluding seagoing ships and airplanes. Different standards are set for each vehicle type and their compliance is determined by running the engine at a standardized test cycle. Non-compliant vehicles cannot be sold in the EU, but new standards do not apply to vehicles already registered.
Euro 6 is the latest standard affecting new commercial vehicles in a sequence that started with Euro 1 in 1993 to reduce harmful exhaust emissions. It became mandatory in the European Union for new trucks registered for the first time from 31st December 2013. This means that all HGV exceeding 3500kg GVW will need to meet the new emissions limits from that date onwards. However there is derogation available in the UK for Euro 5 vehicles manufactured at least three months before that date that will allow some Euro 5 vehicles to still be registered. Derogation in the UK will follow the so-called ‘three month rule’ . Euro 5 Vehicles built up to 30th September 2013 can be derogated for registration up to 31st December 2014. Euro 5 Vehicles built AFTER the 30th September 2013 build deadline had to be registered by 31st December 2013. There is no limit to the number of vehicles that can be derogated.
In the area of fuels, the 2001 Biofuels Directive required that 5.75% of all transport fossil fuels (petrol and diesel) should have been replaced by biofuels by 31 December 2010, with an intermediate target of 2% by the end of 2005. However, MEPs have since voted to lower this target in the wake of new scientific evidence about the sustainability of biofuels and the impact on food prices. In a vote in Strasbourg, the European parliament’s environment committee supported a plan to curb the EU target for renewable sources in transport to 4% by 2015. They also said that a thorough review would be required in 2015 before the EU could progress to an 8-10% mark by 2020.
You must read: Low emission zones in Europe