White paper

Future heavy-duty emission standards: An opportunity for international harmonization

Air pollution continues to be a major threat to public health. In 2017, 96% of the European Union’s urban population was exposed to ground ozone levels in excess of air quality guidelines (AQGs) from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the United States, the picture is similar. An estimated 93% of the U.S. urban population lives in cities with ground-level ozone levels higher than WHO’s AQGs.

NOx emissions from motor vehicles play a significant role in the formation of ground level ozone. Although heavy-duty vehicles in the United States and the European Union account for less than 5% of the total on-road fleet, they are responsible for close to half of NOx emissions from mobile sources.

The European Union and the United States have initiated regulatory processes to update heavy-duty vehicle emission standards. The parallel development of such new standards in the European Union and the United States provides a good opportunity for harmonization. Given the significant overlap between international manufacturers selling heavy-duty vehicles in both regions, an alignment of regulations would enable synergies in technology development and reduce compliance cost. As most countries around the world follow the U.S. and EU requirements, harmonization of new heavy-duty vehicle emission standards would have positive international repercussions.

In this report, the ICCT makes recommendations for the regulatory processes in the European Union and the United States, with an emphasis on harmonizing future heavy-duty vehicle emission standards.

Summary of recommendations for future heavy-duty vehicle emission standards

HDV standards what to regulate
HDV standards how to regulate it
HDV standards how to guarantee it