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The impact of stringent fuel and vehicle standards on premature mortality and emissions

This report evaluates worldwide historical and potential impacts of fuel quality and vehicle emission standards, presents a global policy roadmap through 2030, and quantifies the benefits to public health and the climate.

Technology-forcing regulations in the United States, European Union, and Japan have resulted in highly effective controls of tailpipe emissions. Advanced aftertreatment technology and engine tuning, in combination with ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (less than ten parts per million), can reduce tailpipe particulate matter emissions by over 99 percent compared with uncontrolled engines. EU standards, and equally stringent U.S., Canadian, and Japanese standards, now require these technologies on all new vehicles sold. In countries that have adopted such strict standards, the health impacts of vehicle emissions are expected to drop through 2030, as are emissions of short-lived climate pollutants like black carbon.

Many countries around the world have adopted policies patterned on the European regulation, but the significant majority of these have not implemented the Euro 6/VI stage, the latest and most stringent regulatory level. This study finds that if that lag persists and present trends in vehicle activity continue, the result will be a 70% increase in early deaths from tailpipe PM2.5 emissions by 2030, compared to the present. Conversely, if all countries were to follow an accelerated roadmap to vehicle emission regulations equivalent to Euro 6/VI standards, in tandem with fuel-quality regulations limiting sulfur content to 10 to 15 parts per million (ppm), early deaths globally from road vehicle emissions would fall by 75% in the year 2030, representing a cumulative gain of 25 million additional years of life.

This policy roadmap would also produce a net annual reduction of at least 200 MtCO2e from short-lived climate pollutants in 2030 (using GWP-100 values). Climate benefits in the near-term (estimated using a GWP-20) are more than three times as large given the rapid benefits that the control of black carbon provides. For countries that are still far from reaching the Euro 6/VI equivalent standard, an interim policy target of Euro 4/IV-equivalent standards and 50 ppm sulfur fuel is a reasonable goal that provides substantial benefits.

Read The impact of stringent fuel and vehicle standards on premature mortality and emissions.