The achievement by Mexico’s Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in proposing new heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards, aligned with standards in place in the rest of North America and in the European Union, places Mexico at the forefront of clean vehicle policy in Latin America and other rapidly growing vehicle markets worldwide. Formal publication of the proposal on December 17, 2014, opened a 60-day public comment period. Final adoption of the standard will virtually eliminate fine particle and black carbon emissions from new diesel trucks. With it, Mexico joins a very short list of countries (U.S., Canada, Japan, European Union, and South Korea) with best-in-class, filter-based standards for heavy-duty vehicles.
These world-class standards will bring significant air quality, health, and climate benefits, and multiple co-benefits for industry and consumers. The cost-benefit analysis for the proposal, done in part using the ICCT Roadmap Model Health Module, found that in the year 2037 the new standards will prevent 6,800 premature deaths from exposure to PM2.5 emissions in urban areas. Avoided emissions in that year will total 24,000 tons of PM2.5, 17,000 tons of black carbon, and 410,000 tons of NOX. The climate benefits of these emissions reductions will amount to the equivalent of 54 million tons of CO2 (using a 20-year global warming potential). Net cumulative economic benefits to Mexico of the standard over the period 2018 to 2037 add up to US$123 billion. And these figures, impressive as they are, do not take into account the savings in fuel consumption expected from new and more efficient engines. The new standards will also confer significant additional but as yet unquantified health benefits, including reductions in asthma, bronchitis, stroke, heart attack and other cardio and pulmonary disorders.
“This proposal is the culmination of years of hard work,” said Kate Blumberg, senior fellow and Mexico country program lead at the ICCT, “and the dedicated staff at SEMARNAT that made this happen are to be commended. The heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers also played a very positive and collaborative role in the process. It is a tremendous victory for public health, especially in cities. And the climate benefits of the reductions in black carbon emissions are also a great step forward.”
Not only will the standards have very important direct climate and health benefits (99% reduction in black carbon emissions from new vehicles, 98% reduction in PM emissions, and a 95% reduction in NOx), they will also enable development of additional policy measures to reduce conventional pollutants and GHG emissions from new and in-use heavy-duty trucks.
This proposal has been a priority for local NGOs concerned with air quality and health. Gustavo Alanis-Ortega, director general of the Mexican Environmental Law Center (CEMDA), recognized the effort of local NGOs that participated in its development. “Strong campaigns by local NGOs have raised awareness in Mexico of the impacts of particulate matter and black carbon, helping to move this regulation forward. Our community will work to ensure adoption and proper implementation, and is already seeking opportunities to accelerate fleet renovation and adoption of the cleanest technologies.”
Drew Kodjak, executive director of the ICCT, noted that Mexico is one of the founders of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC). “Heavy-duty diesel engines are one of the most important sources of black carbon and other harmful emissions, and one that we have proven, well-understood strategies for cleaning up,” said Kodjak. “We need other growing markets to put these kinds of world-class emissions standards in place.”