2013 has been proclaimed “The year of air” by EU. Although the EU emission standards have made the emissions from the vehicles much cleaner than before, the air quality in many cities needs further improvement, as clearly expressed by the European Commission. The objective is “to achieve levels of air quality that do not result in significant impacts on human health and the environment”.
To support the member states EU has proposed National Emission Ceilings Directive (NECD). Every year a status report is published on emissions of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons (NMVOC), Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Ammonia (NH4). In 2012 it was reported that 11 out of 27 member states do not meet the national ceilings.
If you are curious about the air quality right now in a city you can try the EU homepage Air Quality Now where the emission data is continuously updated. This is really interesting reading, not only for geeks.
When considering the high emissions in some cities, some factors to consider are:
- age of the vehicle fleet, the older the higher emissions
- efficiency of the transports (capacity, load factor, etc.)
- potential super emitters, vehicle with very old technology or defect emission performance
Several cities are now threatened by fines for exceeding the norm. The idea is that it should become more attractive to do something about the air quality in comparison to paying the fines. It seems that the new Volvo product line for Euro VI city buses will become increasingly attractive, considering the air quality challenges.