The US, Japan and Europe were the first to set limits on health-harmful exhaust. European limits began in 1992 and got progressively tighter; allowing technology to be developed and perfected. Much of the world is following Europe but Russia lags by around eight years and others such as India, China, Mexico and Australia have no plans to adopt the latest European standards. India has no regulations beyond 15-year-old European standards and China has no national schemes beyond Europe’s 2005 standards for buses and lorries.
European standards have not been a complete success; air pollution in European cities has hardly improved in the last decade and many cities are wrestling with nitrogen dioxide that is two to three times World Health Organisation guidelines. Much of this is due to vehicles passing “treadmill” laboratory tests and then emitting more pollution in real-world use, however, there are signs that the latest European standards might be more successful.
The International Council on Clean Transport argue that the rest of the world should leap straight to the latest EU standards, rather than wasting time with the steps that were less effective, saving an estimated 200,000 premature deaths per year by 2030, mostly in India and China. Avoiding growth of diesel-powered passenger cars is another lesson to be learnt from Europe. India is increasing diesel taxes for this very reason.