Muhammad Abdullah Khan
Air pollution is a big health hazard and can be decreased by adopting pollution control standards. The European Union had set up a standardised evaluation scale in 1992, which is generally known as the European Emission Standards (Euro Standards). These standards help control the exhaust emissions from road vehicles. Different degrees of controls have been set up for different kinds of vehicles.
Majority of countries in the world are following these Euro Emission standards. These standards are now also being applied by the countries in the sub-continent. The basic objective of these emission standard is to reduce the intensity of hazardous gases that pollute the environment. However, these standards are continuously undergoing changes since 90s.
In August 1993, the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) for motor vehicle exhaust and noise were launched by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), under clause (e) of section 6(1) of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997. The NEQS were approved by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Council. Pakistan now plans to follow the Euro Emission Standards, to compete with the countries already applying Euro III and Euro IV. Positive steps are being taken by the Ministry of Petroleum with the help of the Ministry of Environment regarding the implementation in new gasoline-fuelled vehicles.
The availability of fuel was the major hurdle in the implementation process of these emission standards in Pakistan. At the moment, it has been decided by the government to apply the Euro Emission Standards in the country from July, 2012. Sessions were conducted in this regard by the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency with all stake-holders, including the Ministry of Petroleum, Ministry of Environment, auto manufacturers and oil companies. The quality of fuel was acutely focused during these sessions as an important point. The main emphasis was on the reduction of sulphur particles from Diesel fuel to 500 ppm, as presently it contributes nearly 9000 ppm.
The oil refineries need to be modified, to function according to the Euro II standards. However, these refineries are already in process to manufacture Euro-II-compliant petrol and diesel. The modification procedure requires heavy amount of capital. Auto manufacturers should make Euro-II-compliant vehicles. Some of them are already producing vehicles based on Euro II and Euro III standards. Such as, Pak Suzuki’s Swift, Indus Motors’ Toyota Altis and Honda Civic are locally produced models complying with Euro III standards.
As per the information from the auto industry, various models correspond to the Euro II standards, while talks are still in progress to relieve the import of Euro II and III-compliant engines from duties.
The General Manager Commercial & Corporate Pakistan Refinery Limited, Aftab Hussain, stated that the government is taking steps towards complying with the Euro Emission Standards and that in this regard the specifications of Euro II are being fulfilled for petrol engines. However, for Diesel engines, Diesel hydro-treaters are to be installed to decrease the amount of sulphur particles from the Diesel fuel.
As per the government’s Euro II-compliance policy, catalytic converters are to be used that fulfill the requirements of Euro II standard fuel. Basically there are two types of engines. One is the EFI engine and the other is the carburettor engine. EFI stands for Electronic Fuel Injection. The EFI system enhances the performance of the engine and controls emission, besides working for better fuel economy. Most of the new Toyota models are equipped with the EFI system, with a built-in diagnosis system. The carburettor engine system can produce as much horsepower as an EFI engine. The only factor applied is tuning which makes the carburettor engine more efficient. The EFI system is more easily compatible with the catalytic converter than the carburettor engine. The entire conversion procedure cost would range from US $ 120 to $ 400. However, for carburettor engines, it would cost from US $ 500 to $ 2,000, which would consequently raise the prices of vehicles quite substantially.
The new measure taken by the Government of Pakistan to reduce the amount of pollutant particles from automobiles by implying the Euro Emission Standards i.e. Euro II, would have some major impacts.
The application of Euro Emission Standards would definitely have a positive effect on the environment as its main aim is to reduce the amount of emissions from the fuel.
Euro II would help in enhancing the air quality with minimum presence of smoke, carbon monoxide and other hazardous gases in the atmosphere. Serious air pollution issues occur specifically in the urban areas, forming haze and smog in winter which leads to respiratory diseases as well as economic loss. By the introduction of Euro Emission Standards, these drawbacks would hopefully be reduced in the cities. The introduction of Euro II compliant standards would also help in reducing noise pollution.
Since the cost of conversion of the conventional engine systems to catalytic converter is quite high, it would increase the prices of Euro II-compliant vehicles.
Therefore, while the introduction of Euro II standards would be advantageous for the environment, car buyers and vendors would be negatively impacted. For this reason, newer strategies need to be formulated by the government to provide duty/tax benefits to environment friendly vehicles.