What is Euro 6?
Euro 6 is the sixth incarnation of the European Union directive to reduce harmful pollutants from vehicle exhausts. The Euro 6 standard was introduced in September 2015, and all mass-produced cars sold from this date need to meet these emissions requirements. The aim of Euro 6 is to reduce levels of harmful car and van exhaust emissions, both in petrol and diesel cars.
This includes nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (THC and NMHC) and particulate matter (PM), which is basically soot from diesel cars. The knock-on effect of reducing these pollutants can also mean improved fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.
NOx is a harmful pollutant that is often blamed for damaging the environment, and has also been proven to have serious health implications. Particulate matter, meanwhile, is a local pollutant that has also been linked to health and respiratory problems.
The latest Euro 6 regulations set different emissions standards for petrol and diesel cars, but that is a reflection of the different kind of pollutants the two fuels produce. For diesels, the permitted level of NOx emitted has dramatically dropped to a maximum of 80mg/km, compared to the 180mg/km level that was required for cars that met the previous Euro 5 emissions standard. In contrast, the NOx limit for petrol cars remained unchanged from Euro 5, as it was already low at 60mg/km
Euro 1 to Euro 6: European emissions legislation timeline
European emission standards first came into force in 1992, with Euro 1 standards becoming law. This initial standard ensured that diesel cars emitted no more than 780mg/km of nitrogen oxide, while the maximum for petrol engines was 490mg/km.
This moved on to Euro 2 in 1997 that dropped diesel NOx to 730mg/km and Euro 3 standards followed in 2000 lowering the diesel NOx limit to 500mg/km. By 2006, Euro 4 emissions were in place reducing the maximum NOx in diesels to 250mg/km and Euro 5 reduced it further to 180mg/km in 2009.
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Throughout this time, the maximum amount of NOx emitted by diesel cars has been well behind that of petrol models. Under the new Euro 6 standards, however, the maximum level for NOx in diesel models is 80mg/km, compared to 60mg/km in petrol cars.
CLEAN AIR POLICY
Clean air is essential to our health and to the environment. But since the industrial revolution, the quality of the air we breathe has deteriorated considerably – mainly as a result of human activities. Rising industrial and energy production, the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, as well as the dramatic rise in traffic on our roads all contribute to air pollution in our towns and cities which, in turn, can lead to serious problems for both health and the environment.
The human toll for poor air quality is worse than for road traffic accidents, making it the number one environmental cause of premature death in Europe, with over 390 000 premature deaths every year. It also impacts on quality of life by causing or exacerbating asthma and respiratory problems. Air pollution causes lost working days, and high healthcare costs, with vulnerable groups such as children, asthmatics and the elderly the worst affected. It damages ecosystems through excess nitrogen pollution (eutrophication) and acid rain.
To counter this, the European Union has set itself the goal to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on, and risks to, human health and the environment. Since the early 1970s, the EU has been working to improve air quality by controlling emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere, improving fuel quality, and by integrating environmental protection requirements into the transport and energy sectors.
As a result, much progress has been made in tackling air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and benzene. Yet, and despite the progress made to date, poor air quality continues to cause serious and avoidable problems. As a next step towards improving air quality, the European Commission adopted in 2013 a Clean Air Policy Package, including a Clean Air Programme for Europe setting objectives for 2020 and 2030, and accompanying legislative measures.
In 2018, The Commission adopted a Communication “A Europe that protects: Clean air for all’ that provides national, regional and local actors practical help to improve air quality in Europe
Via this website, you can find more information on what the European Union is doing to reduce national air pollution emissions as well as air pollution from the main sources, and thus improve air quality.
“EU Clean Air Forum”
The Clean Air Forum 2019 takes place 28-29 November in Bratislava. The main themes for the event are air quality and energy; air quality and agriculture; and clean air funding mechanisms.
Fitness check of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directives (Report)
The results of the on-going fitness check are expected to be published by end of 2019.
First National Air Pollution Control Programmes
To be submitted by Member States by 1 April 2019, in line with Directive 2016/2284 (National Emission Ceilings).
First data on air pollution impacts on ecosystems
To be submitted by Member States by 1 July 2019, in line with Directive 2016/2284 (National Emission Ceilings).