Diesel at Crossroads: Charting the roadmap for co-benefits of health and climate mitigation

CSE symposium, 20 November 2014; BAQ 2014 Conference, Colombo
Centre for Science and Environment organised a symposium on 20 November 2014 at the Better Air Quality conference held in Colombo during 19-21 November 2014

The symposium deliberated on how the Asian countries could deal with the health impact of particulate matter and black carbon that is a fraction of the particulate matter, implicated for enhancing warming impact. This emerging science has blurred the boundaries between the local and global impact of pollution. In the transport sector particularly, the dominant use of poor quality high sulphur diesel is aggravating both local toxic risks as well as climate risk because of high black carbon emissions. This multiple burden of risks demands active, cohesive and aggressive policy response across regions of the world to phase out dirty diesel and introduce clean diesel.

Cities of Asia now face this challenge of the balance – i.e. curb local air pollution to save lives, and at the same time, shrink carbon and energy imprints of growth and motorisation to save fuels and climate. It is disturbing to see the results of the global burden of disease that shows air pollution is still among the largest killer with disproportionately high impacts in Asia. Asian cities will have to be enabled to make quick transition to clean and efficient technology and mobility paradigm.

To achieve the objectives of climate and health co-benefits, it is important to deepen policy understanding of the challenges, policy action and opportunities in different regions of the world – Asia, Europe and the US. This symposium helped to draw lessons and accelerate global technology roadmap and fiscal strategy for climate and health co-benefit that will also benefit Asia.

Way forward:
Dieselisation is a serious health and climate concern that all regions of the world will have to address together. This requires deeper understanding of experience with diesel regulations and implementation in different regions to inform national action on diesel roadmap and air pollution control strategies.

    • Need effective and harmonized emissions standards roadmap: This demands upward harmonization of stringent emission standards across regions. Emissions control systems and fuel quality (10-15 ppm sulphur fuels) that are needed for effective control of diesel emissions become applicable only at Euro VI level. This will require legal adoption of emissions standards roadmap, adequate investments in refineries to produce clean fuels; and fiscal strategies to enable the transition. Developing regions will have to be enabled with good science, knowledge, nationally appropriate but accelerated emissions standards roadmap, and fiscal and investment strategies for clean fuels. This can also be complemented with accelerated fleet turn over. Particulate filters are very reliable but if the vehicles is not properly maintained it can create an unfavorable environment for these filters to operate. 
    • Need mobility management to complement technology roadmap: Future approaches in Europe for instance show that in the post Euro VI scenario Europe is expected to combine strong mobility and vehicle restraint measures to control pollution and cut emissions. Developing Asia has enormous opportunity in combining the two strategies effectively -- stringent technology roadmap with sustainable mobility practices – walk, cycle and public transport. Developing Asia will also require a stringent measure to increase the share of rail based passenger and freight transport to reduce emissions from heavy duty vehicles that dominate the black carbon inventory.

      Need composite road map to include non-road transport: The experience of the industrialized countries show that as the share of on-road emissions decline the relative share of other modes of transport – off-road and marine transport increases. Developing Asia needs to develop more holistic strategies to include on-road, off-road, and non-road sources as is applicable.

Aggressive action on diesel can ensure health and climate co-benefits across regions.

Symposium participants:

    • Agenda for the roundtable and opening remarks by Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi 
    • Diesel at crossroads: addressing challenges of air quality, public health, climate impacts by Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Centre for Science and Environment (Research and Advocacy), New Delhi 
    • Diesel emissions reduction strategy in the transport sector in Beijing/ China for health and climate co-benefit by Dr. Wang Yanjun, Vehicle Emission Control Center, Ministry of Environmental Protection China 
    • Science of diesel black carbon and diesel black carbon reduction programme in the US by Ray Minjares, Lead, Program on Clean Air, International Council on Clean Transportation, USA 
    • Challenges of diesel black carbon mitigation in Europe and the emerging roadmap to address this problem by Dr Axel Friedrich, International Consultant, Germany
    • The other participants included regulators, media, experts, researchers from India and other countries.


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