Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by The Lord Clanmorris




  Very great strides have been taken to reduce emissions from new vehicles. According to the DfT study "The Environmental Impact of Road Vehicles in Use" CO emissions from Euro 4 cars are 25 times less than CO emissions from Pre Euro 1 cars and HC emissions from Euro 4 cars are 50 times less than HC emissions from pre Euro 1 cars. In fact by the time Euro 5 standards are applied there will be very little scope for additional reduction.

  It is clear that for the short and medium term much more attention should be paid to reducing carbon emissions from older vehicles. As the following figures from the UK show, older petrol fuelled cars, defined as Pre Euro and Euro 1, represent 28.1% of the numbers but produce 67.6% of the CO and 82.2% of the Hydrocarbons. Cars of Euro 2 & 3 standards (or higher) represent 71.9% of the numbers but only produce 32.4% of the CO and 17.8% of the Hydrocarbons.

  Similar results have been shown in studies in France and Milan

  The following data from Milan and from France shows that although cars older than 15 years represent between 30% and 35% of the numbers they are responsible for between 60% and 70% of the pollution. Similar results would be obtained from most other European Countries.

  Until now the only proven methods of reducing carbon emissions from older cars have been either to scrap such vehicles or to use high cost retro-fit technology operating in the post combustion area of the vehicle (gas recirculation, particulate filters, ammonia injections etc). The cost of such retro fit systems is usually in excess of £1,500 plus several hours of labour cost.

  Several countries in Europe have conducted successful experiments with a much lower cost technology which operates in the pre combustion area of the vehicle. The cost of such a device is currently £250 (but this cost would be reducible to £100 or less in large scale production). The fitting time is 30 minutes. The device has in over 500 governmental test agency and end user tests has been proven to reduce emissions from both diesel and petrol fuelled vehicles typically between 40% and 80%. This technology also has fuel saving benefits and is applicable to motor cycles and two stroke engines (which are very polluting).

  A large scale test with the above mentioned low cost retro fit device was carried in the north of Italy. The charts set out below give the results of the tests and show the ability of low cost devices to upgrade older vehicles to much higher Euro standards. The sample was composed of 237 petrol fuelled vehicles. 32% of the 132 pre-Euro vehicles were upgraded to Euro 4 emission class and 89% of the 63 Euro 1 vehicles were upgraded to the Euro 4 emission class. More than 90% of all other vehicles (Euro 2 and 3) were upgraded to the Euro 4 emission class. Similar improvements were seen in 170 diesel fuelled vehicles.

  Although the committee's terms of reference are limited to HC, CO & CO2 the results of a long term test in Hungary on diesel buses owned by Volan, (the former state owned bus company) could be of interest because the tests were conducted over a very long period and the same technology can be applied to reduce CO and HC in petrol fuelled vehicles.

  The above tests were end user tests. However the results have been reproduced and replicated in strictly controlled laboratory conditions by a test centre operated by KTI (the Hungarian Ministry of Transport) and two centres in Italy (i) Stazione Sperimentale per i Combustibili (`SSC'—the official test centre authorised by the Italian Ministry of Industry) and (ii) Elasis (an independent test centre owned by Fiat). In the SSC test CO was reduced by 57.9% in the urban driving cycle and 61.5% in the extra urban driving cycle. In the Elasis test in the urban driving cycle HC was reduced by 41.4% and CO reduced by 72.9%. There was also a very significant reduction in fuel comsumption (25% in the urban driving cycle).

  Of course the availability of low cost technology will not in itself do anything to reduce pollution. Although local and central government can lead by example (as do some major distribution companies) the vast majority of owners will not do anything unless there is an incentive. The main incentive would be the introduction of many more low emission zones throughout the country and (in London) a reduced congestion charge for lower emitting vehicles. It is significant that London black cabs are only now starting to fit emission reduction devices (includind the above mentioned low cost device) because of the regulations of the Public Carriage Office department of Transport for London. This incentive will soon also soon apply to lorries over 7.5 tonnes. The Mayor of London decided not to apply the regulations to private cars because of the perceived cost implications. This was at a time when when low cost technology was not available. The situation has now changed. A regulation stating than only light goods vehicles (and, if the political implications were not perceived to be too great, cars too) with emissions equal or better than Euro 3 can enter the Low Emission Zone would now be feasible. The administrative procedures to accompany such a change and identify vehicles with improved emission standard have been proven in Italy.


  The DEFRA Air Quality Strategy published in April 2006 did not address the issue of the relative contribution of older and newer vehicles to emissions and in examining the various alternative strategies did not take account of low cost pre-combustion retrofit technology. This needs to change.

  Much wider introduction of low emission zones with exemptions for vehicles with retro fit technology raising a vehicle's standard to Euro 3 would make a major impact and the cost to commercial and private vehicle owners would be minimal.

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