Fleet News

Emissions: As VW shows, CO2 is not the only pollutant

Andy Eastlake

By Andy Eastlake, managing director, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership

The Volkswagen emissions scandal has drawn into sharp focus the need to make sure that fleet vehicles not only cut CO2 emissions but also reduce the polluting emissions – particularly NOx and particulates – which damage local air quality and can have serious human health impacts.

While the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s (LowCVP) primary remit has always been to help reduce road transport CO2 emissions and contribute to the UK’s climate targets, we have also worked on the principle that cutting carbon should never come at the expense of a more general worsening of air pollution.

The LowCVP has already taken action to make sure this is the case in specific real-world circumstances. Mindful, for example, of the significance of buses in terms of emissions in urban areas, we recently developed the standards for the new Low Emission Bus scheme for Department for the Transport (DfT) and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

This scheme mandates the latest Euro 6 standards, but also tests vehicles across a representative cycle to ensure reductions are delivered. The scheme goes on to award funding for increased levels of carbon saving and, importantly, for increasing levels of zero emission operation.

We are in a rare situation where the heavy duty market is actually leading the passenger car and van markets in implementing testing regimes to confirm real-world performance and we must work even harder together to ensure the new car tests are robust and realised in everyday conditions.

Earlier this month, Transport for London published a study to better understand the in-service emissions performance of new Euro 6 vehicles. Diesel cars were found to produce significantly lower emissions than those at Euro 5, although, in London driving, emissions of NOx were significantly higher than the type approval limits for most vehicles.

We know there is work to be done to ensure rapid NOx reductions in urban areas. The transition to full Euro 6 standards will help to achieve this. Every member of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership has a role to play in bringing this forward as quickly as possible.

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