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Auto emissions roadmaps: A comparison
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p74.jpg (16568 bytes)Our regulators have a penchant for feeble arguments. For instance: if diesel car numbers are increasing in Europe, why should the same be controlled in India? It is true that in some European countries such as Belgium and Austria, the number of diesel cars has increased. The reason is typical: the low price. Also, European countries had actively encouraged diesel vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and so address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. But new research, as in Germany, shows that while diesel technology provides some carbon dioxide reduction benefits, it results in 60 per cent higher particulate emissions than earlier projections for 2020.

European Union countries are increasingly worrying about rapid dieselisation, and so have demanded tighter NOx and PM standards for diesel. Though Europe will move to Euro IV norms in 2005 (with mandated diesel sulphur level of 50 ppm) the European Parliament has set an additional deadline of 2009 for EU-wide changeover to near zero sulphur fuel (10 ppm) diesel and petrol for road transport. Future norms, Euro V and Euro VI, will now be designed to address PM and NOx emissions. They are expected to be equally stringent and reduce the advantages presently accorded to diesel vehicles.

Emerging science has also negated the global warming benefit angle. Diesel soot has been implicated in global warming. This came to sharper focus in 2001. Mark Z Jacobson, of US-based Stanford University, found that diesel vehicles emit about 18 per cent more carbon per gallon than petrol vehicles. He predicted there would be greater global warming with diesel than with petrol over the next 100 to 150 years. Ways to address global warming due to soot, according to Jacobson, include tightening emissions standards by a factor of four to eight, eventually switching from diesel to hydrogen fuel cells.

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European countries had actively encouraged diesel vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and so address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. But research has now implicated diesel soot in global warming

Even as our regulators use arguments — the science is uncertain, they say for example — to actually resist changes, regulatory authorities elsewhere are more proactive. Assessing the health effects of diesel particles to decide emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel vehicles, the US EPA recognised that there were bound to be uncertainties in assessing an environmental risk range. "As with any such risk assessment for a carcinogen," the EPA states "it is the Agency’s best scientific judgement that the assumptions and other elements of this analysis are reasonable and appropriate for identifying the risk potential based on the scientific information currently available."

Proceeding precisely on the basis of ‘uncertain science’ the US EPA has come up with the most stringent emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles in the world. Furthermore, they have actually calculated the public health benefits that such standards will provide. The new vehicle standards, which require 15 ppm fuel, will sharply reduce PM and NOx emissions from diesel vehicles. This will prevent 8,300 premature deaths, 5,500 cases of chronic bronchitis, 361,400 asthma attacks and 7,100 hospital admissions per year by the time it is fully implemented. Children will significantly benefit: the new standards will prevent 17,600 cases of childhood acute bronchitis, 193,400 cases of upper respiratory symptoms in asthmatic children and 192,900 cases of childhood lower respiratory symptoms per year.The monetary benefits of the new standards to be at least US $70.4 billion.In this way, the USEPA also carries people along.

It’s happening, but not in India
Germany: Government and people join hands for a clean diesel campaign

p75.jpg (9048 bytes)In November 2002, a clean diesel campaign was started by a coalition of German environmental organisations headed by Deutsche Umwelthilife (German Environment Aid) and including environmental and public health groups. Even the German Environment Protection Agency is actively involved. The coalition calls on auto manufacturers to voluntarily fit diesel particulate filters on all passenger cars sold in Germany. The German national long-term target is to reduce the additional lifetime cancer risk for humans in congested areas to below 1:5000 by 2020 as compared to 1998. This is akin to achieving the kind of particulate concentration in ambient air that exists in rural areas (PM10 < 0.8 g/cum).

sayno.jpg (5540 bytes)Japan: A city-wide move to "Say No to Diesel Vehicles" In 1999, the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, had set in motion a city-wide move to "Say No to Diesel Vehicles"#. The campaign urged the citizens not to ride, buy or sell diesel passenger cars in the metropolitan area and move to alternative fuels wherever possible. Tokyo is bringing forward the implementation of new diesel standards scheduled for 2007#.

In January 2000, the Kobe district court in Japan ordered the government and Hanshin Expressway Public Corporation to pay for health damages to the roadside residents of National Highway No 43 and Hanshin Highway who had moved the court. The court directed the government and the corporation to keep the particulate concentration level lower than 0.15 mg/cum within 50 meters from the roadside.# Following this the Tokyo Metrolpolitan Government announced the mandatory installation of diesel particulate filter on all diesel vehicles in the Tokyo area from April 2001.

Japan’s new emissions standards targeting 85 per cent PM reduction and 50 percent NOx reduction from trucks and buses#.

p75_3.jpg (5148 bytes)Hong Kong: Euro III emission norms with cleaner Euro IV – 50 ppm sulphur diesel Hong Kong has taken the lead in Asia in addressing the problem of diesel emissions. It has adopted the most innovative approach: Euro III standards from 2001, but with much cleaner 50 ppm sulphur diesel instead of 350 ppm. This system was established with the help of a tax incentive programme.

p75_2.jpg (5319 bytes)Thailand: 350 ppm sulfur this year, 50 ppm Diesel in the next two years Thailand is implementing the 350 ppm sulphur diesel standard this year. But at the same time, it has set in motion a process to work out the feasibility of early introduction of 50 ppm sulphur diesel by 2006.

Another reason the USEPA has set these stringent fuel-neutral standards is that they expect sales of diesel cars and light trucks to substantially grow in future, a trend the standards obviously offset. They predicted that with higher sales, these vehicles could easily contribute between one-half and two per cent of the PM10 concentration their national ambient air quality norms allow — the contribution could be as high as five to 40 percent in some roadside situations with heavy traffic.

p75_1.jpg (21974 bytes)With such increases in diesel sales, the USEPA reasoned, it would be even more difficult for a few counties that needed further emission reductions to attain national air quality standards. More counties, specifically those that have already exceeded standards marginally, will be at greater risk. Thus, reasoned the USEPA, a more stringent PM standard would help address environmental concerns about the potential growth in the numbers of light-duty diesels on the road — even if that growth was substantial.

The Agency received strong public support for increasing the stringency of heavy-duty truck and bus emission standards, and for further controls on sulphur in diesel fuel that would enable the necessary exhaust emission control. The EPA also carried people along. Public officials and representatives of environmental, public health, or community-based organizations testified to the link between public health ailments, such as asthma and lung cancer, and air pollution caused by diesel exhaust and particulate matter. The health and welfare concerns raised during the public hearings, held countrywide, were significant.

So what’s holding India up?
While the automobile industry has publicly professed that it is capable of meeting tighter standards, refineries hold back. In its voluntary roadmap announced in 2000, The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) claimed it was prepared to meet Euro IV standards for passenger cars in 2006, and heavy-duty vehicles in 2008. Some companies such as Hyundai have come up with advertisements in newspapers, stating they are ready to comply by Euro III norms. Yet there is no policy to make automobile companies accountable for these claims.

When the Auto Fuel Policy was proposed in 2002, it had reaffirmed the position of the refineries that it was too expensive to clean up transportation fuels, diesel and petrol, and that any major improvement in the short term was not even necessary, since the incremental benefit from more stringent emissions standards were too small to justify large investments.

traffic2grey.jpg (22712 bytes)The porposal advocated an incremental step to Euro III norms, that too only in 11 cities. Euro II norms were to be enforced in the rest of the country by 2005. Subsequently, Euro IV norms were to be introduced in the same 11 cities, even as Euro III norms became operative at the national level in 2010.

What does all this mean? It means that metros that have moved ahead are to wait for 10 more years to get Euro IV norms. Other critically polluted cities can wait even longer. Cunningly, and as pure justification for inaction, the government has further diluted the proposed deadline of 2010 for Euro IV. There is to be a ‘review’ in 2006, to decide whether the deadline for Euro IV is appropriate or not. This clearly opens a window from where the country’s clean air initiative could get easily thrown out. Moreover, this review will be based on an emissions inventory study being done with funding support from four refineries in six Indian cities. In short, refineries and not regulators will decide the fate of India’s ambient air.

p77.jpg (17431 bytes)The largest shareholder in the Indian oil business, the Indian government is averse to pushing oil companies to upgrade and innovate fiscal strategies to meet costs. In the face of objection from the finance ministry, the government — while approving the Auto Fuel Policy — disallowed fiscal incentives to refineries to improve fuel quality standards. It is estimated to cost around Rs 18,000 crore to meet Euro III norms in 11 cities and Euro II in the rest of the country by 2005. An additional investment of around Rs 12,000 crore is required to achieve Euro IV in 11 cities and Euro III in the rest of the country by 2010.

In India the government does not undertake evaluation and reanalysis of cost estimates that the refineries churn out. There is very little information in the public domain to challenge them. Other governments crosscheck the cost claims of industry and refineries first — but not our government.

When good recommendations are made that can help to tackle the diesel menace
Our regulators go out of their way not to follow them

The recommendation of the Raja Chelliah Committee report
A committee set up by the Union ministry of Environmeent and forests (MoEF) under the chairpersonshSip of economist Raja Chelliah states categorically in its draft report: "The government should end the price discrimination in favour of diesel and against petrol to discourage excessive use of diesel vehicles because of the artificial fuel price advantage. It goes on to say:

dot.gif (271 bytes) "If the artificial difference between petrol and diesel is removed only in a phased manner, then to avoid the environmental damage due to diesel vehicles in the interim, the regulator should levy a tax on diesel vehicles that would induce motorists to consider alternative fuels. Such a tax should be based on the average cost that emissions from diesel vehicles inflict on the society.

dot.gif (271 bytes) "Following the World Bank (1995), the present value of cost of pollution (income loss and medical costs) due to emissions by a diesel car over a period of 10 years is estimated to be Rs 10,648. This works out to Rs 1,109 per year. An annual emission tax of Rs 752 (an average of lower and upper bound estimates of annual costs due to PM10) should be levied on diesel cars."

dot.gif (271 bytes) This report has estimated "the present value of savings from diesel driven Tata Indica over a period of 10 years. The present value of net savings from the diesel version of Tata Indica over a period of 10 years is estimated to be Rs 67,725 which is 23.76 per cent of the ex-showroom price of the diesel version of Indica (price assumed to be Rs 2.85 lakh)."

dot.gif (271 bytes) The tax on diesel vehicles should accordingly have two components. Given the existing pricing of petrol and diesel, an excise duty of equivalent amount should be levied on diesel cars to neutralize the price advantage in favour of diesel. In addition to this, an annual emission tax of Rs 752 may be levied on diesel cars.

Draft National Urban Transport Policy
The draft policy paper was prepared by a Task Force set up by the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation under the Chairmanship of the then Secretary, Department of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation. The draft policy paper was circulated in October 2003 to elicit Comments. It states:

dot.gif (271 bytes) Diesel cars take unfair advantage of an artificially low price allowed for diesel as it fuels essential transport needs such as trucks and buses or  powers irrigation needs. This price benefit is not meant to be available for personal cars.

dot.gif (271 bytes) Personal vehicles that use diesel would be discouraged in million plus cities. This could be by way of a much higher registration fee, to offset the price advantage  that diesel offers in usage or by way of an outright ban.

p76_1.jpg (10543 bytes)Reanalysis of cost claims of the industry to meet environmental standards in the US and Europe have shown how grossly overestimated these are. A similar assessment to meet Euro III and Euro IV standards in Europe had found that industry’s cost claims for achieving 30 ppm sulphur petrol were overestimated by 17 percent, and for 50 ppm sulphur diesel by 55 per cent.

Can’t we be direct and leapfrog?
It is most cost effective to reach the best target directly, rather then spreading resources thinly over many small steps over a long and excruciating time period. Reforms in the oil sector are underway in India. Since 1999, the maximum expansion in refining capacity has occurred; it has nearly doubled in a short span of three years. The problem is that the new investments are not being linked to leapfrogging standards. Catching up later will only compound costs. Privatising without tightening up the standards can spell disaster. New investments must be linked to leapfrog standards.

Unesteemed Diesel
India's only health deficient fuel

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Peddling yet another diesel car model, a recent ad by a large carmaker says: "you start saving even before you start driving". Is that true?
Do you start saving even before you start driving?
A World Bank 2000 study conducted for six cities in developing countries found that diesel vehicles are responsible for 79 per cent of the total health cost from the transport sector.

A study by Sweden based consultancy Ecotraffic shows that, in India, the cancer potency of diesel exhaust is more than twice that of petrol cars. But if only particulate emissions are considered, the carcinogenic effects of one new diesel car is equivalent to 24 new petrol cars and 84 new CNG cars on road.

• According to a WHO study, compared to petrol, diesel vehicles emit 6.5 times more benzo[a]pyrene — a toxic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH). Japanese scientists have found the strongest-known human carcinogens in diesel exhaust. Exposure to PAHs in ambient air affects even foetal growth.

Studies conducted in other countries demonstrate that going directly from several thousands ppm sulphur to near zero sulphur is more cost effective,. and provides greater benefits than reducing it in steps. A recent study by the US-based Transenergy, on Chinese refineries, shows that moving from 2000 ppm sulphur in diesel to near zero sulphur would cost US $ 0.04 per gallon or Rs 4.86 per litre and from 800 ppm to near zero would cost less than US $ 0.02 per gallon or Rs 2.24 per litre.

This small increase in incremental costs can be easily offset with a well thought-out taxation policy that our regulators refuse to look at. Worldwide, governments use green taxes to accelerate clean technology developments. In Germany, diesel engines are taxed higher to compensate for lower fuel tax rates on diesel. Vehicle tax includes an additional incentive to buy low-emitting, fuel-efficient cars. Low emissions cars get a tax bonus. Fuel tax rates are also differentiated by sulphur content.

Greening of fiscal reforms is possible only if we break the rigid mindset of the fiscal planners. Government should peruse new studies, such as the recent White House study conducted by the office of the management and budget in the US. It found that the health and social benefits of enforcing tough clean air regulations in the past decade were five to seven times greater, in economic terms, than the cost of complying with the rules.

Today, our government has no policy either to hold refineries or car companies accountable for the public health fallout of the products they produce. Carmakers can produce diesel cars with abandon. Refineries can keep producing dirty, sulphur-rich fuels. This isn’t illegal, but adds to the premature death count in cities. Now only the customer’s verdict can seal the fate of the devil’s car.

European countries had actively encouraged diesel vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and so address the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. But research has now implicated diesel soot in global warming


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