TRUE publication

Evaluation of real-world vehicle emissions in Abu Dhabi

In early 2023, the Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi partnered with emissions remote sensing system provider Hager Environmental and Atmospheric Technologies (HEAT), 4 Earth Intelligence (4EI), and the International Council on Clean Transportation under The Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) Initiative to conduct a vehicle emissions testing campaign in Abu Dhabi. More than 80,000 usable measurements were taken, and the data collected about nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions offers insights into the real-world performance of the on-road fleet. It also helps to assess the effectiveness of past and current vehicle policies in the emirate. The following highlights emerged:

  • The introduction of the Euro 4 emission standard in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2018 significantly reduced NOx and PM emissions from light-duty vehicles in Abu Dhabi, especially diesel-powered ones. Even so, these vehicles emit 10 to 15 times higher NOx and PM emissions than average vehicles of the same model year in Europe. Adoption of the Euro 6 “d” stage or higher emission standard in the UAE would support significantly lower real-world NOx emission levels.
  • The Euro VI buses that Abu Dhabi introduced in 2019 and 2020 showed NOx emissions 94% lower and PM emissions 86% lower than other buses in the emirate certified to the Euro IV minimum. We suggest that the Abu Dhabi government continue to acquire buses with minimum Euro VI standards, and preferably of the “D” stage or higher, as data from Europe shows those buses offer the best emissions performance.
  • Taxis more than 5 years old were responsible for at least 55% of total NOx emissions from taxis despite comprising only around 17% of the taxi fleet in Abu Dhabi. These vehicles were driving under a derogation of their franchise awaiting renewal and were estimated to emit up to 15 times their type-approval limit.
  • Electrification is the fastest way to reduce harmful tailpipe emissions from motor vehicles and we suggest that Abu Dhabi accelerate the electrification of its public transport, government, and taxi fleet by setting zero-emission vehicle targets. At the federal level, policies such as a zero-emission vehicle mandate or CO2 standard for new vehicles would foster the uptake of electric vehicles and help individual emirates align with federal air quality and climate targets.
Clean air
Remote sensing