EU pushing for less emission by cars

Apr 24, 1998 02:00 AM

The European Union expects to enact laws on "green" vehicle fuel and clean engines by the end of the year, a senior European parliamentarian said recently.
"We aim to conclude negotiations targeted at combating air pollution during the summer and have everything tied up by the end of the year," Ken Collins, MEP and chairman of the influential European Parliament's Environment Committee, told.
The new legislation, part of the EU's long-term Auto-Oil environmental programme, would come into force within 2 years of enactment.
The overall programme seeks to slash road transport emissions by up to 70 % by 2010 by getting cleaner fuels to burn in more efficient and less polluting engines.
"We cannot leave it all up to the car market to make more efficient, less polluting engines. We also need better fuels," said Collins.
Both the oil industry and auto manufacturers broadly agree with the aim of cleaning up air pollution, which the World Health Organisation estimates kills 40,000 Europeans a year, but they differ as to how best to achieve this.

Automobile makers say the technological advances they have made are responsible for nearly all the cuts in noxious vehicle emissions over the last few years. There is not enough emphasis on developing cleaner fuels, they say.
"A car made in 2000 will produce emissions that are 4 or 5 % those of a car built in 1970," said Giovanni Margaria at ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association.
"We are still willing to improve further but would like other contributions. We should not be the only ones contributing to a cleaner environment."
Vehicle makers argue their industry has long borne the brunt of clean-up calls and that constantly relying on advances in engine technology is no longer realistic. There are cost limits on how much cleaner an engine can be, they say.
"Aside from fuel, more attention needs to be addressed on processes such as intelligent traffic management," said Margaria.
His argument has backing from some transport analysts who say that improving traffic flow in urban areas can cut emissions. Engines are least efficient at burning fuel in constant stop-start driving conditions.

The oil industry says Europe's refineries are far from financially healthy with margins under constant pressure. The oil lobby cites initiatives such as the development of "green" city diesel as examples of its commitment to improving air quality.
Europia, the European Petroleum Industry Association, says the proposed EU reforms could cost the oil industry as much as 60 billion ECU ($ 54 bn), but that the EU plans may not be the most cost-effective way of reducing emissions.
"We support cutting air pollution, but feel it should be done via the most cost-effective way - be that building new oil refineries, new power stations or developing new engine technology," said Europia's John Price.
MEP Collins said he was aware of the cost pressures on both the oil and automobile industries, but said it was sometimes more important to consider the quality of life for Europe's 367 million inhabitants.
"No doubt there are cost implications involved in getting cleaner fuels and engines," he said, adding that quality sometimes was more important than cost considerations.
"It should be possible to have competitive European industries and a pleasant living environment," he said, adding that tough legislative changes could be an incentive to develop more efficient processes.

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