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Archive for July, 2019

“Mind the gap!” Real-world emissions in New Zealand

Thanks to Dieselgate we’ve known since 2015 that vehicle emissions are higher in practice, and vehicle fuel efficiency is lower, than official tests show. Overseas studies have found that the gap is real and growing but how does that relate to New Zealand?

New research published by Emission Impossible Ltd and Mote Ltd for the New Zealand Transport Agency sheds new light on real-world emissions and fuel efficiency of New Zealand vehicles. The research developed a purpose-built portable emissions monitoring system (PEMS) in order to measure the real-world emissions of a representative cross-section of the New Zealand fleet (see Figure 1).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1. The PEMS equipment installed on one of the test vehicles.

Test vehicles were selected to represent the most common and influential sectors of the fleet, and included petrol and diesel, light and heavy-duty, New Zealand new and second-hand imported vehicles manufactured between 1996 and 2014.  These were driven over a real-world route in Auckland, comprising city, open road and motorway driving with a range of vehicle speeds and gradients.

Real-world versus official standards

As with elsewhere in the world, our PEMS testing found that real-world emissions of most pollutants were higher than those allowed by the regulated standards.

Key findings were:

  • real-world NOX emissions were generally higher than standards, with results approximately 4.6 times higher on average (ranging from two to nearly eight times the limit)
  • real-world PM2.5 emissions for light-duty vehicles were similar to the standards
  • real-world CO2 emissions were on average 17% higher than type-approved fuel consumption figures
  • real-world NOX emissions for the tested vehicles were comparable to those for vehicles tested in Europe and Australia (see Figure 2).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2. Our PEMS results compared with Australian PEMS results for fuel consumption.

Sadly there was little evidence that mandatory reductions in emissions standards have had any impact on actual emission levels in reality. The only exception was PM2.5, for which emissions have reduced dramatically in later model diesel vehicles, we think due to the increasing effectiveness of the particulate filters used.

Unfortunately there was also little evidence that fuel consumption has improved over time – CO2 levels typically remained stubbornly in the 200 g/km to 300 g/km range, irrespective of the type of vehicle or fuel used.

Still. Now we know. Right?

To read more:

Testing New Zealand vehicles to measure real world fuel use and exhaust emissions, NZ Transport Agency research report 658, available online at www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/research/reports/658

Our Zero Carbon Bill submission

Emission Impossible Ltd has lodged a submission to the Environment Select Committee on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill.

We strongly support the intent of this Bill to safeguard the liveability of the Earth for future generations.  However, we are concerned that in its current form it will not limit warming to 1.5°C by 2050.

We agree with the proposed changes to the current Climate Change Response Act 2002 as they relate to Sections 3, 3A, 4 and 4A.  However, we request changes to the new Parts 1A to 1C around the Climate Change Commission, emission reduction and adaptation.  We also highlight additional matters that need to be addressed in the Bill and its implementation.

A copy of our submission is available here.

Beyond GDP

The New Zealand Genuine Progress Indicator to Measure the Economic, Social and Environmental Dimensions of Well-being from 1970 to 2016

Gross Domestic Product or GDP is widely used to measure the performance of national economies, including New Zealand’s. Many consider it to be the pre-eminent indicator of economic performance. Although the GDP measures the amount of goods and services produced in the economy each year, it is a woeful measure of a country’s well-being. In the GDP, many activities like, for example, a near-shore oil spill might perversely contribute to GDP, when they are clearly not beneficial to society.

The Genuine Progress Indicator seeks to overcome these limitations in the GDP. Through a meticulous process of data collection and analysis and by following international best practice, Massey University and Market Economics Ltd tracked New Zealand’s economic performance since 1970, by using the Genuine Progress Indicator framework. The Genuine Progress Indicator measures 21 benefits and costs associated with economic activity in New Zealand, most of which are not tracked by the GDP. These 21 benefits and costs are first of all converted to monetary terms ($NZ) using standard economic valuation methods; and then ‘added up’ to obtain an overall Genuine Progress indicator for New Zealand for every year over the time period 1970 to 2016.

Overall Results:

The results of this analysis are that the Genuine Progress Indicator shows our societal progress is not as rosy as GDP indicates (refer to Chart A). Overall, on a per capita basis, since 1970 the GDP increased by 91%, whereas the Genuine Progress Indicator, which gives a more accurate measure of the nation’s well-being only increased by 53%.

 

Chart A National Progress: GDP versus Genuine Progress Indicator (Both Indicators are measured in per capita terms, and then converted to their ‘percentage change since 1970’. By definition, 1970 = 0% change for both indicators).

 

 

[Source: Massey University News]

WHO official: where is outrage over seven million air pollution-related deaths?

Maria Neira calls for urgent action on the second day of the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting

A senior WHO official said she cannot comprehend the lack of outrage over the seven million premature deaths every year that are caused by air pollution.

Speaking on Monday, the director of public health and environment at the World Health Organisation, said it was a mystery why more people were not demanding immediate action to tackle the world’s invisible killer.

The links between air pollution and illness are well documented and Maria Neira warned it was one of the biggest public health challenges the world faced.

“This is about asthma, lung cancer, stroke and heart disease,” she told The National at the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting. “People are breathing what is available — and what is available is not safe.”

Most of the deaths occur in Africa and Asia and Ms Neira said it was inexplicable that more people were not talking about the issue.

“I ask myself this question every day,” she said. “How can it be possible that we have seven million premature deaths a year and we don’t see people panicking or jumping on governments asking what are you doing to protect me.”

She said air pollution caused more deaths than HIV/Aids, malaria, TB and even malnutrition combined, and while interest was growing much more needed to be done to tackle the problem. Combating climate change was the primary way to end these unnecessary deaths.

“Two thirds of air pollution is caused by the combustion of fossil fuels so this is the same source of climate change,” she said.

Ms Neira’s comments came on the second and final day of the climate meeting which was largely dedicated to health. Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, added to the calls. “It originally was about the planet and animals. That is valid but undersold a powerful political narrative — people’s health,” he said.

“The medical bills from climate change are staggering, the humanitarian bills are staggering, and the number of deaths is unacceptable,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

“But I want to take a more positive and balanced outlook here: Not just that climate change kills, but that climate action saves lives. Not just that health impacts are expensive, but that climate action is worth investing in.”

Cities in the Middle East are hugely affected by air pollution because of rapid development and use of fossil fuels. Dust storms compound the problem. Reports by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi have suggested that air pollution is a major factor behind respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in the UAE. But the country has been ramping up efforts to improve air quality.

Authorities in 2018 established an air-quality monitoring station at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. The new station complements those used by the National Centre of Meteorology and follows the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi’s endorsement of the Plume smartphone app, which helps residents monitor air quality. Dr Al Zeyoudi has said that by 2021 the UAE wants to improve its air quality by 90 per cent on current levels.

Ms Neira, meanwhile, stressed that the way to tackle the issue was by switching to renewable energy and she lauded the UAE — one of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers — for its burgeoning commitment to solar power.

“The equation has to change,” she said. “The UAE has been extremely supportive and we have no reasons to think that they are not committed.”

[Source: ]