License to pollute, goodbye?

3 November 2020

Five years after Diesel Gate broke, one might be tempted to think that vehicle emissions are a closed debate. Far from it. As the European Parliament and Council meet to discuss the Real Driving Emissions legislation, Eurocities is urging them to confirm their ambitious position to continue Europe’s progress towards the European Green Deal.

The air we breathe

With more than 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe due to poor air quality, there is still a way to go to tackle transport emissions in our cities. More and more cities across Europe are taking local measures to deal with urban traffic pollution, like vehicle bans and Low Emission Zones, but decisions on the Real Driving Emissions legislation will have an important impact on how manufacturers ensure cleaner air.

The main point of contention is the ‘conformity factor’. Conformity factors were introduced in 2016 to account for a discrepancy between measurements in controlled testing environment and during real driving experience tests. With the introduction of conformity factors, vehicles are allowed to emit up to 110% more of the legal limit on the road, de facto giving manufacturers a license to pollute.

Taking action

Eurocities members, represented by Porto, and Brussels, Madrid, and Paris, who initiated the process before the European Court of Justice, would not stand for it and immediately mobilised to oppose the large conformity factors. The substantial increase allowed by the conformity factors is not based on best available technology and, as a study on post-Euro 6/VI emission standards by the CLOVE consortium has found, most of the latest vehicle models in real driving emissions tests already score below the legal threshold of NOx emissions. So, why do we need large allowances?

It is therefore imperative that the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union confirm the European Parliament’s position that the conformity factor should cease to apply by 30 September 2022 to improve air quality in our cities today.

Read our letter here