The European Green Deal – Zero Pollution and Carbon Neutral in 2050

On 11 December 2019, the European Commission published its European Green Deal communication, intended to reset its ‘commitment to tackling climate and environmental-related challenges’.

Amongst other aspects of the ambitious plan, the Commission proposes a zero pollution environment with better monitoring, reporting, prevention and remedies for air pollution.

In this piece, we look at how the emissions control industry can help the Commission achieve its goals of zero pollution and further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In this context, AECC issued an open letter to the EU Commission’s leadership to indicate its commitment to working together for cleaner air.

Pollution from vehicles has been reduced in Europe since the introduction of the first ‘Euro standards’ in the early 1990s. For light- and heavy-duty, on- and non-road vehicles and machinery, successive regulations have helped reduce the overall level of emissions. There is still more work to be done to achieve zero pollution, not only from new vehicles but also from the legacy fleet already on the roads.

Zero pollution from road transport is achievable but will not happen overnight. In this context, it is important for stakeholders to work together to ensure that, while the technology and market for zero emission vehicles continue to develop, new vehicles with combustion engines are required and able to achieve near-zero emissions.

Using robust scientific data, AECC has already demonstrated that advanced emission control systems can help vehicles achieve near-zero levels of nitrogen oxides and particulates under all driving conditions. Others have also shown that achieving near-zero levels is possible by using different technologies as part of a system including advanced emission control catalysts.

As petrol and diesel combustion engines are predicted to comprise a major part of the powertrain mix into the 2030s at least, either as part of mild, full or plug-in hybrid vehicles, it is important for the health and well-being of all Europeans that these emission control technologies are adopted in the next generation of engines. To this point, the Commission’s Green Deal communication foresees the proposal of more stringent air pollutant emissions standards for combustion-engine vehicles.

Emission control technologies are already available to enable low real-world pollutant emissions from any vehicle or machine, regardless of the fuel used, to be within defined limits at every possible operating condition. This will help the EU with its ambition to align air quality standards more closely with World Health Organization recommendations.

With the availability of petrol and diesel vehicles with near-zero emissions, European citizens will have access to a wide range of vehicles and will be able to choose the most convenient for them at a price they can afford.

Having a choice of energy sources – conventional fuelling at the pump, electrical charging, or a combination of both – will give consumers the chance to decide for themselves the most appropriate car for their needs and their budget. Along with enabling cleaner public transport, this will contribute to the EU achieving a successful and just transition towards a sustainable future.

The products developed by the emissions control industry and working alongside vehicle systems for greater efficiency will contribute to improvements needed in the transport sector, specifically from cars, vans, trucks, buses and construction machinery. This progress will help reduce pollution in our towns and cities. Direct greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles can also be reduced by using alternative and renewable fuels with the current technology and fuelling infrastructure.

Working in partnership with EU policy makers and stakeholders, AECC and its members are committed and striving to find the best solutions that will deliver clean vehicles for Europe. Many of these are available now and can be used to help achieve the ambitions set out in the European Green Deal.

On 24 January 2020, AECC issued an open letter to the EU Commission’s leadership to indicate its commitment to working together for cleaner air and has published a 2020-2025 vision paper on how to deliver clean, efficient, convenient and affordable mobility for all European citizens.