National traffic air pollution measures. Cost and impact on PM, NOx and EC

Although the transport sector has become far less polluting over the past few decades, thanks mainly to Euro road-vehicle standards, in practice emissions, particularly of NOx, are falling far less rapidly than the standards, as evidenced by the ‘dieselgate’ affair. In addition, application of exhaust-gas treatment technologies in inland and marine shipping has advanced substantially less than in road vehicles, while it takes far longer for clean technologies to penetrate these fleets because of long vessel service life. For these and other reasons, the transport sector will remain by far the largest source of NOx and PM2.5 emissions in the Netherlands up to at least 2030.

Additionally, for particulates the World Health Organisation  (WHO) has issued air-quality ‘guidance values’ that are around twice as stringent as the EU’s current legal standards. Partly for this reason, in 2013 the European Commission adopted the Clean Air Policy Package, the aim of which is to work towards the WHO guidance values, at the same time announcing new air-quality standards for the period through to 2030.

In its Coalition Agreement, the Dutch government announced a new action plan aimed at achieving a lasting improvement in national air quality. To this end the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) is currently examining what steps the government can take to reduce the population’s exposure to PM2.5, NO2 and EC (elemental carbon) in the decade up to 2030. At the request of PBL, CE Delft has prepared the present report setting out the cost, impact and cost-effectiveness of 15 measures to reduce transport emissions of PM2.5, NOx and EC. The measures were selected by a panel of transport experts at PBL and CE Delft.