Car manufacturers and oilpersons share the burden of cutting vehicular pollution in Europe
THE MASSIVE cost of European Union's (EU) plan to reduce vehicular pollution from 2005 has infuriated car manufacturers and oilpersons, both traditionally rival industries. The car manufacturers say that the directive, forged in June, will force them to churn out a whopping us $60 billion. And the oilperson echo similar woes.
Following in the footsteps of the United States and Japan, EU issued its first directive on "regulated substances' in exhaust emissions in 1976 and has been catching up ever since. The latest limits on noxious chemicals will be introduced in two stages in 2000 and 2005. The standards for 2005 are particularly severe: cutting carbon monoxide emissions to 1 g/km; nitrogen oxides to 0.8 g/km; and particulates found in diesels to 0.25 g/kg. This directive is similar to the one adopted in southern California, and, tougher in the case of one measure adopted for nitrogen dioxide.
Automakers say that to meet the quota they will have to come up with more fuel-efficient cars. However, the debate over responsibility for research and development costs of cutting vehicle pollution has been raging for years.
In the early stages of the discussions between the oilpersons, car manufacturers and the EU, the oilpersons managed to save their skin after convincing policymakers it would be extremely expensive to rebuild refineries. However, in subsequent discussions the car manufacturers managed to sway the decision in their favour. The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), parliamentarians and environmentalists asserted that substantial pollution cuts could be possible only with cleaner fuels. The EU's new directive requires oil companies to introduce "reformulated fuels", such as low sulphur diesel, from the next century. The European Petroleum Industry Association asserts that the "original proposal would have enabled the cleaner air objective to be achieved in the most efficient way".
Meanwhile, the EU and the ACEA have reached a voluntary agreement to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 25 per cent in new cars by 2008. The car manufacturers say that the new standards represent a stiff technical challenge and will cost "tens of billions of dollars" to implement.
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