European emissions legislation
The European Union sets emissions limits for most applications of internal combustion engines. Legislation exists for the following types of engines and vehicle. New legislative steps are also being prepared for many of them:
- Passenger cars and light commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes
- Heavy-duty engines for trucks and buses
- Motorcycles, tricycles, quadricycles and mopeds
- Engines for "non-road mobile machinery". This includes:
- construction equipment (bulldozers, excavators, off-highway trucks etc.), road rollers and mobile cranes
- fork-lift trucks, airport ground-support equipment, combine harvesters, snow-ploughs
- machinery that uses constant-speed engines, such as compressors, generating sets, sweepers and refrigeration units
- inland waterway vessels
- railway locomotives & railcars
- small equipment such as lawn mowers and chain saws
- Engines for agricultural & forestry tractors
- Propulsion engines for 'recreational craft' (boats up to 24 metres) and personal watercraft such as jet-skis
- Combustion heaters for motor vehicles and their trailers
- The inclusion of specifications for standard reference fuels in the emissions directives
- Directives on the quality of fuels to be used in these engines in the market
- European standards for fuel quality and composition
- EN590 for diesel
- EN228 for petrol
- EN589 for LPG
- EN 14214 for Fatty Acid Methyl Esters, commonly known as biodiesel
- EN 15376 for (bio)ethanol for blending into petrol
- Large combustion plants
- Waste incinerators
- Solvent use in manufacturing operations such as vehicle painting, adhesive coating etc.
- Vapour emissions from fuel distribution and storage
European Parliament in Brussels.
© 2006 - Façades - arch. M.Boucquillon - Belgium
For most of these there have already been or will be several steps with increasingly stringent requirements - for example new passenger cars had to meet Euro 1 requirements from 1993, Euro 2 from 1997, Euro 3 from 2001 and Euro 4 from 2006. They will have to meet Euro 5 requirements from September 2009 and a further stage Euro 6 from 2014 will follow. In many cases the requirements apply to new Type Approvals (new designs) before they apply to all new engines or vehicles of that type. In some cases the application dates are 'phased in' over a period of time for different sizes of engine or different applications.
Emissions LimitsEuropean legislation sets limits for emissions of the 'regulated pollutants' CO, HC, NOx and PM and defines the test procedures to be used.
- For cars and light commercial vehicles and for motorcycles, the test involves driving the vehicle on a chassis dynamometer, commonly known as a 'rolling road', over a defined test cycle which sets second-by-second speeds. Test results and legislative limits are expressed as g/km or mg/km.
- For other application the engine alone is tested on an engine dynamometer. Here the test may use 'steady state' tests (various constant engine speeds for a fixed time) or transient cycles (speed varying second-by-second, as for cars) and the results and limits are expressed as g/kWh.
- In either case, a proportion of the exhaust gas is sampled and the amounts of pollutants are measured by gas analysers (for CO, HC, NOx and CO2) and by collecting particulate matter on a pre-weighed filter.
Summaries of key legislative requirements are available on the publications page or from the European Commission's DG-Enterprise automotive unit website (for vehicle emissions) and mechanical equipment website (for 'non-road mobile machinery'). Full copies of the relevant Directives and Regulations can be downloaded from Eur-Lex on the EU's Europa website.
The development of catalyst, trap and filter technologies with improving engine, fuel and control technologies has allowed emissions limits to be progressively lowered. Harmful emissions from cars have been reduced by over 95% and those from heavy-duty engines by around 90%. The challenge now is to target those emissions which remain critical for air quality and health - particulates and NOx - and to ensure that the increasing number of vehicles on the roads does not offset the gains already made.
RoadworthinessIt is not sufficient to set limits for new vehicles. Vehicles also need to be properly maintained.
- European legislation sets requirements for the durability of emissions systems and obliges owners to have their vehicles' emissions tested regularly.
- Manufacturers have to test sample vehicles to demonstrate emissions compliance in-use during the vehicle life.
- Legislation also requires the use of 'On Board Diagnostics' (OBD) systems to monitor the engine and emissions control system and warn the user of faults.
Fiscal incentivesEU Member States are allowed to introduce favourable taxation to encourage the introduction of an environmental initiative earlier than legislation demands. Such incentives can be either for
- the early introduction of vehicles meeting future emissions limits or
- to support the costs for retrofitting cars, trucks and buses with catalytic converters and diesel particulate traps (www.dieselretrofit.eu), or
- to accelerate introduction of cleaner fuels such as unleaded petrol and ultra-low sulfur diesel.
Member States and the European Commission have recognised that public bodies can play a role in promoting the use of low emission vehicles, especially in applications such as buses and refuse trucks which are used in urban areas. These can then help alleviate local air quality problems.
AECC and the development of legislation
Formal proposals for European directives or regulations are submitted by the European Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of Ministers, made up of the representatives of all the Member States. Before a formal proposal is submitted, though, the Commission consults widely with all the relevant stakeholders, including NGOs, the motor industry and AECC. As part of this process, European Commission working groups help develop these regulations by providing data, reviewing the feasibility of suggestions and by examining the detailed technical content of drafts. The main group concerned is the Motor Vehicles Emissions Group (MVEG), but there are also expert groups on non-road mobile machinery and fuels which allow the Commission to consult on particular areas of development. AECC is a participating member of MVEG and the expert groups and provides test data to assist in the formulation of appropriate legislation.
Once a formal proposal has been submitted to Parliament and Council, the co-decision process starts. Both institutions review the content of the proposals and can accept, reject or propose changes. In the case of Parliament a lead committee (usually the Environment Committee) examines the detail of the proposal and makes recommendations to plenary sessions of Parliament. In the case of Council, the Member States' experts review the contents. Both Council and Parliament have to agree the final version for the legislation to be adopted. As in the other stages, AECC provides data and information as required by the participants in this process. In the case of regulations, Member States do not have to transpose European legislation into their national law since implementing measures are addressed through Comitology. AECC also provides technical input in the Comitology committees.
United Nations legislation
AECC also participates in groups which help develop United Nations Regulations on emissions that are applied in many other countries. The United Nations' World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) which meets in Geneva oversees the development of UN-ECE regulations, often based on EU legislation, and of world-harmonised 'Global Technical Regulations (gtrs). The emissions regulations are developed by the Working Party on Pollution and Energy (GRPE) and its sub-groups, with the active participation of AECC.
UN-ECE regulations provide a means by which non-EU countries can readily adopt regulations equivalent to those in the EU. The gtrs are a more recent development and aim to provide new regulations which can be adopted globally. Currently most vehicle emissions regulations are quite different in the three main vehicle markets - the EU, the USA and Japan - and most other countries use one or more of these as their basis. The regulations for the three areas differ not only in the limit values, but also in the test procedures and driving cycles that are required. The first gtrs are aiming to provide harmonised testing procedures, and it is hoped to progress to harmonised limit values as a second stage. The first emissions gtr, commonly known as the World Motorcycle Test Cycle (WMTC) but officially Global Technical Regulation No.2, was adopted in 2005.
The GRPE work also covers developing improvements to test procedures. AECC involvement has included providing the reference vehicle for international testing of an improved procedure for measurement of particulate mass and a new procedure to measure the number of ultrafine particles emitted from vehicle exhaust (The Particulates Measurement programme, PMP), which is included in the Euro 5 and 6 standards for passenger cars and will be included in the heavy-duty Euro VI regulation.
PMP Emissions testing at the Fraunhofer Institute