A Ten-Year Retrospective: The International Council on Clean Transportation

When clean air regulators from around the world first met in Bellagio, Italy in 2001 to agree on a set of common principles and goals for vehicle and fuels policies, they were prompted in part by the realization that too often they were busy reinventing the wheel. Questions that had long been settled in one country were being rehashed in another, without the benefit of information gained from previous research.

Eighteen regulators and experts from Europe, China, Japan, and the U.S. came together in Bellagio for three intensive days of meetings. They emerged with not only that foundational set of common principles but also the basis of a global expert network, later formally embodied in the International Council on Clean Transportation.

The world’s vehicle and fuel landscape looks very different than ten years ago. Leaded gasoline has almost disappeared, aggressive new passenger-vehicle standards for greenhouse gases are being implemented in the United States and Europe, and the world’s first heavy-duty truck standards are in place in Japan and the U.S. and being prepared for Europe. Low-sulfur fuel is the new norm in the U.S., Japan, and Europe, with Beijing set to follow in 2012. While many policy makers, activists, and industry leaders played a part, ICCT participants were involved in all of these victories.

Great challenges remain. The tenth anniversary of Bellagio offers an opportunity to assess the ICCT’s experience over the past decade and consider how lessons learned should shape its priorities in the next.