Press statement

Protecting citizens’ health in Europe will require stricter air pollution limits than the proposed Euro 7

Clean air

Berlin, 10 November 2022—The European Commission today proposed Euro 7 emission standards for cars, vans, trucks, and buses to reduce air pollution. The regulation will come into force starting in 2025 for cars and vans and in 2027 for trucks and buses. These standards will likely be Europe’s final set of rules to lower toxic fumes from internal combustion engines. The proposed limits, however, fall short of the reductions that are technically feasible, cost-effective, and needed to protect the health of European citizens.

Euro standards have a long history of being the driving force behind the wide deployment of emission control technologies that would not have been commercialized in the absence of a strong regulatory pull. This revision lacks the teeth to spur further investment and exploit the full technology potential,” said Peter Mock, ICCT Europe’s Managing Director.

Over 95% of cities in the EU have air pollutant concentrations above the World Health Organization guidelines. Although the continent is moving towards 100% zero-emission vehicles, the cars, vans, trucks, and buses built before the transition is complete will be on the road for decades. Euro 7 is the last opportunity to protect people’s health from the nitrogen oxides (NOx), ultrafine particles, and other harmful pollutants emitted by these petrol and diesel engines.

Recent ICCT studies in Europe suggest that the proposed targets do not go much further than the emission levels that are already possible with current emission control technologies. In the case of cars and vans, the proposal stays narrowly in line with current Euro 6 targets and would fail to pull the cleaner technologies the European Commission identified in its medium- and high-ambition scenario.

Existing emission control technologies can drastically cut emissions at a lower price than expected. A recent study estimated that the cost difference is less than 500 euros per vehicle. An ICCT analysis found that the technologies required to achieve ultra-low pollutant emissions are already in production or close to commercialization.

The technologies to make the last generation of engines cleaner are not prohibitively expensive. New investments in manufacturing Euro 7 cars and trucks will be spread over more than 40 million new vehicles in the EU, with the added benefit of avoiding tens of thousands of premature deaths as Europe transitions to 100% electric road transport,” stated Felipe Rodríguez, ICCT Program Lead.

The health impacts of weaker standards will be felt in European cities for years to come. The average age of cars and vans in the EU was almost 12 years in 2020, and in some countries the average age was 17. ICCT’s emissions measurements in Warsaw show that around 70% of vehicles are beyond what Euro 7 considers as normal vehicle lifetime, which means older than 8 years or more than 160,000 km on the odometer. By comparison, the durability requirements in the United States are 240,000 km or 15 years.

The proposal can also hinder the EU automotive industry internationally. In the long run, European car manufacturers could find difficulties in accessing other markets like China and the United States, where phase-outs are not yet planned and adopted emission standards are already stricter than the proposed Euro 7. Meeting stricter emission requirements in these countries could become more costly for European manufacturers and slow their access to these markets. Most notably, China, the largest vehicle market, will implement a NOx emission limit for cars of 35 mg/km in 2023 as part of its China 6b regulation; which is over 40% more stringent than the proposed Euro 7.

Contact: Felipe Rodríguez, [email protected], +49 (0) 30 233268413