Uptake of cleaner fuels and numbers of alternative-fuelled vehicles
Assessment made on 01 Jan 2002
ClassificationTransport (Primary theme)
DPSIR: Driving force
- TERM 031
Policy issue: Switch to cleaner and renewable fuels
Leaded petrol is completely phased out in the EU
Uptake of vehicle and fuel standards is improving, but the share of cars with catalytic converters is still low in ACs
The integration of EU legislation on vehicle and fuel standards is an important part of the accession process. In 1996, the share of petrol-engined cars fitted with catalytic converters in the ACs was estimated at 7.7 %. This corresponds to the situation in the EU in 1990, indicating a backlog in technology penetration within the ACs of about six years. There were wide variations between countries, with shares ranging from 0.2 % in Romania to 11 to 14 % in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Much has changed since 1996, but no more recent AC-wide statistics are available in international databases.
The EU has entirely phased out leaded petrol, a goal that was regulated by Directive 98/70/EC . The ACs should reach a complete phase-out from the moment of their accession. The uptake of unleaded petrol varied significantly among ACs in 1996, with a 100 % uptake in the Slovak Republic and a 6 % uptake in Bulgaria. In that year, the uptake of unleaded petrol in some ACs was even greater than that in the Mediterranean EU countries.
The EU also requires the level of sulphur in petrol and diesel to be reduced to less than 50 ppm (parts per million) from 2005 onwards (Directive 98/70/EC). The Commission recently proposed the use of zero-sulphur petrol (below 10 ppm) to be mandatory from 2011 (European Commission, 2001g). A number of Member States have already introduced tax incentives to promote low-sulphur fuels, or plan to do so.
Despite the efforts of the EU to promote alternative and renewable energies for transport, these still have a low penetration. The communication on biofuels sets a target of 6 % penetration by 2010 (European Commission, 2001d). A number of studies, however, have suggested that biofuels are only slightly less greenhouse gas intensive than conventional fuels, and could lead to more intensive monocultures, with adverse effects on biodiversity and groundwater.
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This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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