Motor vehicle emissions harm public health and the environment. The ICCT estimates that exposure to vehicle emissions in the year 2005 produced at least 242,000 global early deaths. Emissions of fine particulate matter, ozone-precursors, air toxics and other harmful pollutants also produce environmental damage in the form of crop fertility losses and near-term climate warming.
Since the 1960s, advances in emission control technologies have enabled dramatic reductions in motor vehicle emissions. For example, the three-way catalyst coupled with the phase-out of leaded gasoline produces a 90 percent reduction in carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. In diesel vehicles, the diesel particulate filter coupled with the near phase-out of fuel sulfur content produces up to a 99 percent reduction in black carbon emissions and a 95 percent reduction in fine particulate matter.
Best practices in vehicle emissions control have included emission standards for new vehicle engines, fuel quality standards, programs to repair or replace the highest emitting vehicles in the fleet, as well as programs to verify and enforce these regulations. In some countries such programs now extend to every class of mobile engine such as marine vessels, locomotives, construction equipment, and others.
Future growth in vehicle emissions will occur in countries undergoing rapid economic development that have not adopted best practice policies. To forestall the public health and environmental implications of this growth, the ICCT Clean Air Program is providing technical research and policy guidance to support the widespread adoption of international best practices. This could lead to a 75 percent reduction in premature deaths from vehicle emissions exposure in 2030.
Manufacturing costs of both in-cylinder and aftertreatment technologies
Summary analysis and recommendations
Technologies and policies to cut vehicle emissions