In one fell swoop, China has ensured that two-thirds of the world’s new heavy-duty diesel vehicles will be soot-free in three years’ time, compared to just 50 per cent if it took no action.
The country of 1.4 billion people and the world’s biggest vehicle market announced this week that all new trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles powered by diesel would have to meet Euro VI equivalent emissions standards from 2021.
On the ground, it translates to a significant reduction of toxic diesel particle and nitrogen oxide emissions from new vehicles that will now be fitted with diesel particulate filters and improved selective catalytic reduction systems.
The fleet of vehicles targeted by the standard is responsible for over 90 per cent of particulate emissions and almost 70 per cent of nitrogen dioxide emissions from the entire on-road transport sector in the country, adding weight to its implications for air quality and public health in a country whose major cities have long been synonymous with high levels of air pollution.
“This will drastically improve air quality for nearly a fifth of the world’s population and avoid tens of thousands of premature deaths each year,” said Ray Minjares, who leads the Program on Clean Air at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).
Transport is a major contributor to the air pollution that leads to the premature death of 7 million people across the world each year.
Minjares points out that the legislation puts China among the ranks of major markets that are leading the global transition to soot-free heavy-duty vehicles, including Europe, North America, Japan, Korea, India and Turkey.
The benefits of this transition extend beyond those reaped by cleaner air.
“By virtually eliminating black carbon from new diesel vehicles, these markets are also delivering fast action to slow the pace of near-term climate change.”
According to an analysis by the ICCT, the new standard would result in “substantial climate co-benefits”:
“The China VI standard will achieve an accumulated black carbon mitigation of 993,000 metric tons over the period 2020 to 2050. If other countries follow China’s example and implement a China/Euro VI-equivalent emission standard for new heavy-duty vehicles no later than 2025, then 84 per cent of the world’s heavy-duty vehicle fleet could be soot-free by 2040. These potential efforts could avoid warming in 2050 equivalent to 15.4 per cent of the 0.5°C achievable by reducing short-lived climate pollutants identified in a 2011 UNEP-WMO assessment.”
The full 0.5°C of avoided warming would only be achieved by reducing short-lived climate pollutants from anthropogenic sources, some of which have warming abilities thousands of times that of carbon dioxide.
The ICCT has consistently supported technical agencies in China to build up capacity and undertake assessments to shape their vehicle emissions control pathway.
Read ICCT’s analysis of China’s new standard here: China VI: A milestone for the world’s transition to soot-free vehicles