Time is up for the internal combustion engine. The EU must make sure polluting vehicles no longer endanger lives

The European Public Health Alliance welcomes the European Commission’s initiative to develop stricter emissions standards for all petrol and diesel cars, vans, lorries, and buses.

In responding to the public consultations, and especially in light of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, EPHA believes the European Union needs a public health driven, green recovery to help fight the climate crisis. To this end, the European Green Deal should be strengthened in order to lead the European transition to sustainable mobility, including zero-emission vehicles.

The new European vehicle emissions standards “Euro 7/VII” will be vital in this strategy. The last EU vehicle emission standards must be implemented as soon as possible, to make sure that vehicles on European roads no longer endanger any lives due to their emissions.

EPHA believes that the new Euro 7/VII standards should contribute to a modal shift from car-based cities to walking, cycling, and public transport, wherever possible. These are the healthiest, the less polluting and most efficient transport options. Non-internal combustion engines should be preferred over conventional fossil fuel-powered vehicles because they are non-exhaust emission sources.

For health, climate protection and environmental reasons, the vehicle emissions of air pollutants should be drastically reduced. Many pollutants emitted from automotive engines are dangerous to human health. Yet, they are poorly regulated or not regulated at all under the current Euro regulation nor the EU Air Quality Standards: all must be regulated. EPHA demands the EU air quality standards to be aligned with the latest WHO guidelines. Consequently, the Euro emissions standards and their enforcement should be strengthened.

EPHA urges the European Union to end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2028 (2032 for heavy duty vehicles larger than 26 tonnes), while progressively phasing out existing polluting vehicles from urban areas.

It is important to strengthen the emissions regulation, especially the removal of the conformity factor for all pollutants, to ensure that vehicles meet the emission limits on the road, for all pollutants, under all possible driving conditions. Effective implementation is as important as the limits themselves.

 EPHA policy recommendations

EPHA stresses the importance of more stringent Euro 7/VII standards as strict and as possible as soon as possible, and more crucially, alternative to combustion engines. That overarching principle should be mainstreamed and implemented in the technical regulation.

The new standards must be aligned with the “zero pollution” ambition of the European Green Deal and with the goal of net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. Limits must apply under all conditions all the time, including during DPF regeneration and throughout the vehicles’ lifetime. Particle pollution from brakes and tyres should be regulated as part of Euro 7/VII. The new standards must also introduce a roadmap to achieving 100% zero emission vehicles by 2028 (2032 for heavy duty vehicles larger than 26 tonnes).

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