Europe’s concerns over diesel emissions must be addressed by strengthening its petrol-ethanol market

Recent concerns over particulate emissions from diesel engines in Europe must be addressed to ensure that Europe’s air quality does not decline any further, says the European renewable ethanol association (ePURE). A rebalancing of the European transport fuel market in favour of petrol with increased ethanol content is one solution to the problem of rising diesel use in Europe.

Greater use of petrol will lessen air quality problems associated with diesel use due to petrol’s lower regulated emissions. This is because ethanol contains more than one third oxygen, which, when added to petrol, leads to a more complete combustion of the fuel in the engine, resulting in fewer toxic particulate emissions and making it safer for humans.

Furthermore, compared to diesel or petrol with no ethanol content, if petrol is blended with higher levels of ethanol it has lower levels of CO2 and other pollutant emissions(1).

ePURE welcomes yesterday’s call by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee for the introduction and enforcement of a real life emissions testing procedure for vehicles by 2017 to properly measure the air quality impacts of vehicle engine emissions.

However such tests should not solely reflect the tank-to-wheel emissions but assess the well-to-wheel emissions of the transport fuels used in the engines to ensure that the full life-cycle emissions of fuels are fully taken into account when assessing real-life vehicle emissions.

“By rebalancing the European transport fuel market in favour of more petrol use Europe can address its declining air quality. Great use of petrol is not only beneficial for air quality but when it is blended with ethanol it also good for the climate.”

(1) CO, NOx, particulate emissions & benzene


Note to editors:

In 2014, diesel fuel use represented 70% of the European liquid transport fuel market. Over reliance on diesel as a transport fuel in cities is a key source for worsening air pollution in urban areas. With 17 EU Member States found to be in breach of their air quality targets in 2014, European policy makers therefore need to act in order to address the air quality impacts of increased diesel use, starting with ending the preferential tax treatment given to diesel fuels.

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