The case for early implementation of stricter fuel quality and vehicle emission standards in India

Published: 2013.08.16

Gaurav Bansal

The 2013 Auto Fuel Policy Committee is charged with establishing a roadmap for vehicle emission and fuel quality standards in India through 2025. While there is a general consensus that India eventually needs to move to 10 ppm sulfur fuels and Bharat Stage (BS) VI emission standards, the timeline for implementation of those stricter standards remains a subject of discussion.

This briefing summarizes the public health and economic benefits of early implementation of stricter standards over 30 years. For the purposes of this analysis benefits were calculated based only on avoided premature mortality resulting from lower vehicular PM2.5 emissions in urban areas; benefits from reductions in other pollutants, reduced mortality in rural areas, and non-health benefits were not considered.

Nevertheless, this brief analysis makes clear that the health and economic benefits of implementing stricter fuel quality and vehicle emission standards in India according to an accelerated timeline would be significant. Moving to 10 ppm sulfur fuels by 2017 and Bharat Stage VI standards by 2019 would result in an estimated 48,500 avoided premature deaths, with associated economic benefits of US$90 billion (INR 450,000 crore) through 2045, while the costs of accelerated standards would sum up to half of that, or about US$45 billion (INR 226,000 crore). Furthermore, benefits would continue to accrue beyond 2045, while costs would not.