Press release

[Press release] In Mexico, proposed HDV emission standard would generate health and climate benefits

Clean air Fuels

Expected revisions to Mexico’s emissions standards for heavy trucks and buses patterned on more stringent European and U.S. regulations promise substantial net health, economic, and climate benefits, according to a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation, an independent research organization. Vehicle manufacturers support the changes, the ICCT study notes, and phasing in new standards even before the official implementation date of 2018 could be feasible in city fleets, in major freight corridors, and in the border region.

The ICCT study (available at reports the results of a cost-benefit analysis of changes proposed for Mexico’s heavy-duty diesel vehicle emissions standard, NOM 044, through 2037. The new regulation would significantly lower limits on emissions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from trucks and buses, require that new heavy-duty diesel vehicles sold in Mexico be equipped with advanced emissions control devices and on-board diagnostic systems, and generally bring Mexico’s regulatory framework into alignment with the international heavy-duty vehicle market as well as the most progressive standards worldwide. The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) has developed a draft proposal in consultation with the NOM 044 working group and has committed to finalizing the new standard before the end of this year.

Based on that analysis, the ICCT estimates that over the period 2018 to 2037 the tighter NOM 044 standards would result in a net benefit to Mexico of US$123 billion (1.6 trillion Mexican pesos), taking into account the value to society of 55,000 avoided early deaths from air pollution and the reduced climate impact from lower emissions of black carbon.

“This study highlights the major benefits associated with Mexico’s adoption of world class emission standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director of the ICCT. “The pieces are in place, including support from the manufacturers.”

The UN’s Helena Molin Valdés, who heads the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), which partially funded the study, stressed the dual health/climate benefit of controlling emissions from diesel trucks and buses. “Over a twenty-year period, as this paper shows, finalizing the new standard would cut emissions of fine particles, PM2.5, by 225,000 metric tons, and black carbon emissions by 160,000 metric tons, reducing impacts on both health and the climate. It is exactly the kind of win-win policy we need to be pursuing everywhere. This study will help shape a Global Green Freight Action Plan that the Coalition partners are now working on.” Mexico is a founding member of the CCAC. The ICCT is a non-state partner in the coalition, and co-lead of the CCAC’s Heavy Duty Diesel Initiative, which aims to catalyze major reductions in black carbon through adoption of clean fuel and vehicle regulations and policies.

The ICCT’s Kate Blumberg, the study’s main author, noted that the vehicle emissions proposal underscored the importance of implementing fuel-quality standards that would lower limits for sulfur content in diesel fuel as well. Advanced emissions-control devices require fuel with very low sulfur content, 10 to 15 parts per million, to function properly. Most of the diesel sold in Mexico contains 500 ppm sulfur. “Right now, the expectation is that ultralow sulfur diesel will be available throughout the country in 2017, a year before the new vehicle standards take effect. It’s already available in many urban markets, and PEMEX is ramping up production. But that 2017 target date needs to be formalized in its own regulation. That’s the next step after NOM 044.”

Among the other conclusions put forward by the ICCT study:

  • NOM 044 offers manufacturers two compliance pathways, modeled on the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union standards. At present, the Mexican regulation incorporates outdated versions of those standards, which differ substantially with respect to both effectiveness and compliance costs. The new proposal would update NOM 044 to rely on the current versions of the standards, EPA 2010 and Euro VI, leapfrogging an intermediate step in the process. These options are functionally equivalent, require the same emissions-control and diagnostics technologies, and will result in the same compliance costs.
  • Manufacturers will have no problem meeting the new standards, as they do already in other North American and world markets. And consumers and vehicle owners should benefit additionally, as engines designed to meet the more stringent PM and NOx limits are also more fuel-efficient than those that dominate the Mexican market at present.
  • While the emissions-control technologies required to meet the updated standards depend on ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD), there is no need for a significant lag between the date at which ULSD is widely available and promulgation of new standards. Manufacturers in Mexico are producing vehicles for export that meet these standards now, and PEMEX will continue to increase production and supply of clean fuels over the coming years. The U.S. EPA provided an interval of only four months between requiring that at least 80 percent of the fuel sold in the U.S. meet ultralow sulfur standards and implementation of a national regulation requiring advanced aftertreatment technologies for control of particulates.
  • Federal and local authorities should seek opportunities and incentives for early adoption or phase-in of new standards. More than 30 percent of the diesel fuel sold in Mexico already meets ultralow sulfur limits, including fuel supplied to Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, and the share of ULSD will continue to grow.

Contact: Kate Blumberg, [email protected], 415.202.5749

Publication details

Revising Mexico’s NOM 044 standards: Considerations for decision-making
Authors: Kate Blumberg, Francisco Posada, and Josh Miller
ICCT working paper 2014-5
Series: Heavy-Duty Vehicle Policies for Mexico (Políticas públicas para vehículos pesados)