Proposals for EC car emissions strategy beyond 2000

Proposals for the next two stages of control on car emissions were issued by the European Commission at the end of December. The first stage will see a continuation of the EC's established policy of relying on exhaust emission standards, but for the second stage, beyond 2000, a battery of novel measures is being considered to compensate for the diminishing returns achievable by improvements in engine design and emission abatement systems. The proposal will also alter the existing arrangements under which Member States can promote sales of cleaner cars by means of financial incentives.

The proposal is a successor to a 1991 Directive which set exhaust emission limits for both petrol and diesel cars, and effectively required the introduction of three-way catalysts on all new petrol-engined cars from the beginning of 1993.

The 1991 Directive will reduce emissions of the three regulated gaseous pollutants - carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides - by 80-90% in comparison with emissions in 1970, when the first EC

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