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InCo flagship on reduction of transport impact on air quality


Given the policy relevance of the topic, the selected consortia will regularly share their findings with relevant European Commission services. Proposals will have to address one of the following subtopics and clearly indicate which subtopic they are addressing:

A) Low-emission oriented driving, management and assistance. This area aims at exploring the impact of the user (including his driving behaviour and choices in maintaining the vehicle) on emission production:

  • Driving behaviour exploration: PEMS[[Portable Emissions Measurement Systems]] driving measurement campaigns to assess driver behaviour variability and correlate it with real powertrain emission, and (if needed by lab measurement and modelling) brakes and road/tires emissions;
  • Derivation of low polluting-emissions driving practices and dissemination through awareness campaigns. The collected data should be of adequate quality to be also usable as input for future implementation in driving assistance tools and automated driving, as well as traffic management;
  • Assessment of the impact of other user behaviours such as poor maintenance or tampering. All aspects and causes should be studied, including an assessment of the real effectiveness of OBD and periodic inspections, of the legal situation of tampering in each member state (for both sales of devices and installation) and of the most effective ways to induce car owners not to tamper and to properly maintain their vehicles (considering both technical and economic reasons for their behaviour);
  • Assessment of the potential impact of retrofits[[For instance those resulting from the Horizon Prize for the cleanest engine retrofit.]], both for light and heavy duty road vehicles and NRMM[[Non-Road Mobile Machinery, i.e. earth moving machines, locomotives etc).]] (including the development of methodologies to verify a level of durability appropriate for the application) and promotion of their application in cities with pollution problems.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497) international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with China and other Asian and/or CELAC countries.

B) Starting from recently defined emissions indicators (RDE test results including NOx max and PN max values, WLTP CO2 emissions), development of a 12 to 18 month project to timely develop support to informed consumer choice by defining a holistic testing and scoring mechanism. This should be capable of assessing all vehicles (conventional and electrified) and lead to a single ""GREEN VEHICLE index"". Such index should encompass all of the relevant criteria, e.g. tailpipe CO2, and polluting emissions such as NOx/NO2, hydrocarbons and particles, noise, performance and operating cost. The developed methodology should be fine-tuned in a pilot phase on a sufficiently large number of vehicles to ensure that the results are comparable and provide a fair and reliable assessment. Such an index could result in a public awareness scheme (running after project end) capable of orienting eco-conscious consumer choice, and to create a virtuous circle (as achieved by EURONCAP for safety) creating competition on who brings to market the cleanest vehicles. The mechanism should complement (not overlap with) the results of regulatory real-driving emissions (RDE) tests with an aim to maximise the coverage of real-world driving situations and provide relevant information. Particular attention should be paid to the ways in which the variability of real-world emissions performance is communicated, and what usage patterns deliver the best performance (being therefore complementary to the study and awareness raising activities in Subtopic A).

C) Sensing and monitoring emission in urban road transportation system. This area intends to urgently provide a means to monitor fleet-wide on-road emissions, to detect and repress any emission-affecting modifications of individual vehicles (tampering) or bad maintenance/poor after-treatment system durability/OBD ineffectiveness, to support local air quality plans, and to help national and local enforcement authorities in identifying and prosecuting infringing vehicles.

  • Remote sensing of road vehicle emissions (contactless measurements from the roadside, portals or from chasing vehicles); further technological development of available techniques is needed to improve performance, reduce costs, facilitate use by unskilled personnel and achieve a broader deployment potential;
  • Establishment of a proper data infrastructure built around vehicle registration databases, traffic management measures and air quality monitoring systems;
  • Demonstration of the system in several cities;

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with China.

D) Cost effective enforcement of shipping related emissions legislation, both at the EU and global level, is essential for the expected environmental improvements to be achieved. To support the enforcement, assess their effectiveness and to identify potential future gaps it is necessary to develop, evaluate and demonstrate cost effective systems to measure the airborne emissions of pollutants from a vessel under real operational conditions ( e.g using on board systems) and to target ships for inspection and the enforcement of emission limits.

For coastal, urban and port areas, develop measuring technologies and 'beyond state of the art' modelling tools to assess the contribution of air emissions from ships and their comparative impact on air quality and health building also on projects such as 'Interreg Clean North Sea Shipping (CNSS) and the LIFE project 'Clean Inland Shipping' (CLINSH).

In addition to characterising and quantifying particulate matter (in particular, the most harmful, including ultrafine), such systems should also be able to simultaneously measure other relevant pollutants including SOx and NOx.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with the involvement of the largest ports and regulating authorities and other relevant bodies within the Asian region as well as in the frame of the activities of the International Maritime Organisation to which EU Member States and global maritime nations are parties.

E) Measurement of airborne pollutants emissions from aircraft under parking (with functioning APU), taxiing, take-off and climb-out conditions and under different climate conditions (In addition to characterising and quantifying particulate matter down to at least 10nm, systems should also be able to simultaneously measure other relevant pollutants including SOx and NOx). An assessment of pollutants' transport and impact on air quality in and around airports, in a form potentially suitable for regulation should be performed.

In line with the Union’s strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged, in particular with Asia, CELAC and the US.

F) In-vitro and in-vivo assessment of health effects of ultrafine nanoparticles (VOCs and SVOCs) emitted from engines of the different transport modes particularly when using fuels with high aromatic content. Focus should be on understanding the biological processes leading to acute genotoxic and systemic effects in the lungs and, in particular, beyond.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 2 and 5 million would allow the different specific challenges to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

The air quality situation in Europe has not sufficiently improved for some pollutants and significant exceedances are still found, for example, for particles, ozone and nitrogen oxides, particularly in areas affected by specific environmental or industrial conditions.. Similar situations occur in many cities around the world, and this is the reason for designing this international cooperation flagship.

High hopes are pinned on zero tailpipe emission technologies that might solve the problem in the longer term, particularly in the road sector. However, fleet renewal is too slow to just wait for all vehicles on the road to be replaced by electrified ones in order to solve the air quality issue. Also, emissions from other sectors, such as ships and aircraft in ports, internal waterways and airports, can contribute significantly to the problem, and zero emission technologies are not often available.

It is therefore urgent to address in as many ways as possible the reduction of the impact of the existing internal combustion transport fleets and support local authorities and other regulatory bodies with the provision of appropriate/advanced tools. Monitoring of the car fleet, for instance, can detect high emitters, allowing to provide information to authorities for possible cases of defeat devices, tampering, poor durability of depollution systems.

In the case of tampering, the legal situation varies among member states and needs to be clarified in view of facilitating enforcement.

The choices of customers buying new vehicles can be oriented towards cleaner vehicles by making visible which are those that have an overall better performance (i.e. as a consumer information measure, separate from EU certified type-approval testing, while users of existing polluting vehicles could be encouraged to use them in a more environmentally friendly way.

It is also important to verify the performance of On Board Detection (OBD) systems and of periodic inspections and improve them where appropriate.

On board measurement of pollutants could enable new implementation approaches to regulation showing on the one hand how much each driver pollutes (helping in the eco-driving effort) whilst on the other hand allowing a real ""polluter pays"" approach to certification, taxation and traffic regulation (the needed technology will be explored in LC-MG-1-4-2018, together with research on hardening de-pollution systems against tampering).

Apart from road vehicles, airports and ports can strongly contribute to poor air quality, it is therefore important to quantify their impact and monitor their evolution.

Finally, the health impact of extremely fine particles and of Volatile and Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs and SVOCs free or absorbed in the particles), is still not well understood. Such ultra-fine particles have been proven to pass the alveoli, placental and brain barriers and they can reach other organs through the blood stream and generate serious health impacts which need further research.

All the above actions contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular SDG 3 (""Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages"") and 11 (“Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”) through:

  • Reduction of emissions from the existing combustion-engined car fleet (A, C);
  • Reduction of unnecessary driver-induced emissions though a better awareness by the public of their role in controlling polluting emissions (A) ;
  • Increase of low emitting vehicle sales by providing more information to guide buyers towards the cleanest available vehicles (B);
  • Reduction of transport-related emissions though the improvements of detection and enforcement against vehicles with tampering, defeat devices or durability issue, as well as of ships not complying with emissions regulations, i.e. not using clean low-sulphur fuels, suitable engine parameters for NOx reduction or properly activating de-pollution devices where appropriate (C, D) ;
  • Better understanding of the impact of the different transport modes through monitoring detection and modelling of emissions in the existing road vehicle fleet as well as ships and aircraft (C, D, E) ;
  • Improved and more comprehensive data for risk assessment from air pollutants from different transport modes and identification of cost effective reduction measures (F);
  • Provide technical evidence to assess gaps in current regulation of vehicles and air quality (All).