February 1, 2007

European Commission proposes strict new fuel standards

Brussels, Belgium – The European Commission has proposed new standards for fuels that will reduce their contribution to climate change and air pollution, including an increased use of biofuels. The proposed standards will not only make the fuels themselves “cleaner” but will also allow the introduction of vehicles and machinery that pollute less.

The revised directive will introduce an obligation for fuel suppliers to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that their fuels cause when they are refined, transported and used. From 2011, suppliers will have to reduce emissions per unit of energy by one per cent a year from 2010, which will result in a 10 per cent cut by 2020.

A separate gasoline (petrol) blend will be established with a higher permitted content of oxygen-containing additives (oxygenates), including up to 10 per cent ethanol. The different blends will be clearly marked to avoid fuelling vehicles with incompatible fuel. The Commission will put forward a proposal for the mandatory introduction of vapour recovery equipment at filling stations later this year; the vapours, known as volatile organic compounds, contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone pollution.

From January 1, 2009, all diesel fuel will have to have an ultra-low sulphur content of no more than 10 parts per million. (In comparison, the ultra-low sulphur diesel now legislated in the U.S. is 15 parts per million.) The permitted sulphur content of fuel for use by non-road machinery and inland waterway barges will also be substantially cut.

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