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EEA: Traffic pollution still harmful to health in many parts of Europe

Trend in emissions of air pollutants from transport in EEA-32: PM2.5, CO, SOx, NMVOC, NOx. Source: EEA. Click to enlarge.

Transport in Europe is still responsible for damaging levels of air pollutants and a quarter of EU greenhouse gas emissions, despite some progress in reducing the impacts from transport. Many of the resulting environmental problems can be addressed by stepping up efforts to meet new EU targets, according to the latest report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The EEA’s annual report under the Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM) assesses the environmental impact of transport across Europe. There have been some improvements over recent years, although these can be partly attributed to reduced economic activity during the recession. As the economic climate improves, the new EU transport targets should focus efforts to further reduce environmental impacts, the report says.

The principal finding of this report is that Europe is making tentative progress in reducing the impacts from transport...However, there are several important caveats to this broadly positive picture.

...One caveat is that for a number of the targets, the methodology for measuring progress has not been finalized, or the data‐sets are not yet fully complete...A second caveat is that for many targets, the base year against which current data are compared is still relatively recent.

...This leads to another observation: although the EU is generally moving in line with the ‘target path’ toward the 60% emissions cut, it does not mean that transport‐related impacts are on a continued and uniform downward trend every year. For example, transport energy consumption actually rose slightly in 2011 compared with 2010 (0.1 %), while overall transport GHG emissions (including aviation but excluding international maritime) in 2010 only reduced by 0.4 % compared to 2009.

A third caveat is that many targets are not moving in the right direction at all. While there have been improvements in CO2 average tailpipe emissions from new passenger cars, there has not been enough progress on the consumption of oil in transport or on meeting the related goal of sourcing 10 % of transport fuel from renewable sources. In spite of the increase in sales of electric vehicles in 2010 and 2011, alternatively‐fueled vehicles still only accounted for 4% of all vehicles in the on‐road fleet in 2010.

—TERM 2012 report

Although air pollution has decreased over the last two decades, it is still a major problem in many areas. Euro standards for vehicles have not succeeded in reducing real NO2 emissions to the levels set out in the legislation although they have made substantial improvements to air quality overall.

Increasing transport of goods is also leading to poor air quality. Freight was one of the main causes of the high levels of NO2. Increased shipping over the last two decades has also meant that emissions of acid rain-causing sulfur oxides have only decreased 14% since 1990, despite major efficiency improvements.

One of the big challenges of the 21st Century will be to mitigate the negative effects of transport—greenhouse gases, air pollution and noise—while ensuring positive aspects of mobility. Europe can take the lead by intensifying its work in the area of technological innovation in electric mobility. Such change could transform inner city living.

—Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director

Other trends and findings in the report include:

  • People living near busy roads across Europe are still particularly exposed to excessive air pollution levels. Harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels above legal limits were registered at 44% of roadside air monitoring stations in 2010. Particulate matter (PM10) levels exceeded limits at 33% of these sites. These pollutants can affect the cardiovascular system, lungs, liver, spleen and blood.

  • Europe needs to further reduce the energy consumed by transport, since it was only 4.3% lower in 2011 than its peak in 2007. Energy use in some transport modes has been strongly influenced by economic fluctuations in recent years.

  • Freight transport demand is particularly sensitive to economic fluctuations. After a sharp drop between 2008 and 2009, it grew 5.4% in 2010.

  • Passenger transport demand fell almost 1% between 2009 and 2010. This seems to go against the long-term trend, as passenger transport demand has increased steadily across the EU since records began in the mid-1990s. Private car use has stayed more or less steady, the report says, despite the economic downturn and wide fuel price fluctuations over the last decade.

  • In some cases, prices may be influencing people to make choices which are damaging for the environment. Buying a car has become steadily cheaper in real terms since the mid-1990s, the report notes, while train travel and passenger transport by water has become more expensive. Nonetheless, new cars are becoming more fuel-efficient. The average car sold in 2011 was 3.3% more efficient than the average sold the year before.

  • The transport sector has to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 68% between 2010 and mid-century to meet the EU target. Greenhouse gas emissions from transport fell by 0.4% between 2009 and 2010, and early estimates show a similar decrease between 2010 and 2011.

  • International shipping currently contributes to nearly 87% of all SOx emissions caused by transport.

  • Noise is another impact from transport which can cause serious health problems. The report finds that in Europe’s biggest cities, three of every five residents are exposed to harmful levels of traffic noise. Even in the countryside, 24 million Europeans are exposed to damaging traffic noise at night. This can cause both physical and psychological problems.




This is further proof that the phony Socialist Greens in Europe do nothing but TALK a good show. Euro air is just as polluted, with genuine toxic emissions, as it ever was. Meanwhile to collect more Tax monies, CO2 a non toxic trace gas, is religiously monitored to little effect. Human CO2 emissions still exceed Euro bio-sequestration, and Europe adds Net CO2 to the atmosphere.

Whereas NAFTA Air Quality is almost completely in Air Quality compliance with toxic emissions down 90% or more from 1970 levels. Plus CO2 emissions of all types human and natural, are less than bio-sequestration levels or less than ZERO. NAFTA therefor sequesters CO2 from other areas such as Eurasia, blowing in on the prevailing winds.


EU will have problems with air pollution as long as diesel ICEVs are favored. This situation may last until electric vehicles are introduced. It may stabilize in the next few years due to extended (to 2060?) deeper financial crisis.

Interesting stats:

CO2 created per Tonne of aluminum produced in various places:

1. Canada........2.3** tonnes of CO2/Tonnne of aluminum.

2. EU............5.6

3. UAR...........9.8

4. USA...........11.2

5. China.........18.1

** This very low CO2 is due to the almost exclusive use of Hydro-Electricity to produce aluminum in Canada. USA and China use electricity from more dirty Coal fired power plants.


Harvey, you fail to mention the ecological devastation that all hydropower causes.. and CO2 is not a pollutant, you cant live without it.

It is truly shameful that European pollution levels have remained essentially constant since 1990.

Thomas Lankester

We cannot have illuminating discussions by making binary statements, out of context, about issues where amount is key. Vitamin A can be highly toxic in excess but 'you can't live without it'. Spot the meaningless statement.

Without the radiative forcing of CO2, the Earth would be a snowball but it is a logical fallacy to say that therefore we need it at any level. What we need is the right amount of radiative forcing to retain come of the Earth's thermal infrared emissions. Retain too much and the Earth systems will tip over to a new climatic state - as has happened so many times in the geologic past. Beyond the GHG effects, CO2 is also acidifying the oceans, shifting the calcium carbonate solution equation to wards more dissolution (Le Chataliers principle) and raising the carbonate compensation depth.

On both counts, excessive CO2 is/will corrupt the environment - the OED definition of pollution.

Stridently stating that ALL hydropower causes ecological 'devastation' is blatantly untrue and just undermines credibility. What evidence do you have that the run-of-river Archimedes screws on the Thames in Windsor (for instance) have caused ecological harm.
Have some hydro schemes not enabled new ecosystems to develop?

I can agree that the EU local air pollution clean up is far too (shamefully) slow and the problem of diesels needs to be addressed.


Let´s put this into some perspective:
SOx emissions in general in Europe mostly come from to coal combustion and marine engines, not from vehicles. International shipping is apparently not on this graph but all national shipping and from member state to member state should be included if the nomenclature is correct. Eventually, international shipping accounts for 87% of all SOx from transport, as the authors note. The fuel sulfur level in automotive fuels was reduced to practically zero level (<10 ppm) already 2009 in the EU, which is lowest in the world and, for example, lower than the USA, where 15 ppm is allowed. In practice, the level is usually below 2 ppm. Sweden introduced such a diesel fuel (not gasoline then) already in the early 1990´s, i.e. decades ahead of any other country in the world and deserves some credit for that. Sulfur-free fuel is important from many other aspects, e.g. it is essential for diesel aftertreatment but also for some gasoline aftertreatment. Some sulfur emerges from lubrication oil, actually more than from the fuel in conventional engines, but since oil consumption has been drastically reduced to minimize ash deposited in DPFs, we do have a substantial reduction here as well, which most likely is not accounted for. Realistically, there is nothing more we can do to reduce SOx from vehicles. This also becomes apparent, when other sources are plotted in a diagram (which these authors have not done, perhaps for an apparent reason). For marine engines, new regulations will drastically reduce SOx also from this source.

Only a minute fraction of PM2.5 comes from the vehicle exhaust, i.e. practically nothing (>99% of exhaust particles are smaller than PM1.0). Other sources of PM2.5 totally dominate in ambient air. Regarding the contribution from vehicles, tire and road contact create most PM2.5 (PM10 as well). Road/tire PM emission is roughly proportional to vehicle mass, so EVs that are heavier than ICE vehicles will inevitably increase those levels. The same applies to any other increase of vehicle mass such as, e.g. heavy SUVs that seem to popular in the USA.

The remaining issues are NOx and, in particular, NO2 emissions. HD engines tend to have higher NOx during “off-cycle” operation and exhaust aftertreatment promote a faster oxidation of NO to NO2 (which eventually happens in ambient air but does not cause so much human exposure due to ventilation effects in densely populated areas). HD engines also produce more NOx per liter fuel than LD diesel engines, which also (before Euro 6) produce more NOx than gasoline engines. NOx (and indirectly also NO2) will be handled in Euro 6 (LD) and Euro VI (HD). Such vehicles are already marketed since a couple of years, albeit that this introduction is a few years delayed compared to the USA, where similar levels were introduced in 2010. One should also note that it takes some time to replace all vehicles on the road so, in practice; we have to wait another decade until these measures will have full effect.

EVs are no near-time solution for Europe regarding the CO2 problem. Using the EU mix for electricity production, CO2 from an EV is roughly equal to an ICE vehicle. We do also expect much greater relative improvement in energy efficiency for ICEs than EVs (>95% max. efficiency in an electric motor does not allow for much improvement), so ICEs will be more favorable in the future, unless electricity generation is drastically changed. The problem is that production of “green electricity” (wind and solar) in the EU is counterbalanced by the desire to scrap nuclear power plants. Projected electricity demand might even increase the share of fossil electricity production. Until this problem is fixed, EVs make no sense.


Peter ,

To say that EU VI is a solution when it is merely a good but very delayed start. Fifty state T2B5 in force for decades in the USA, is still roughly twice as tight as specification, and twice as clean.

The fuel itself maybe dirtier, but the cleanup technology more than makes up the difference. In any case America is getting ready to require that all ICEs be as clean as the catgories created to demonstrate thre ultimate cleanliness of EVs.

There is a proposed standard being circulated by CARB and probably adopted before EU VI goes into force.

Europe is trailing badly in EVERY aspect of Air Quality and will condemn its citizens to that as far into the future as we can see.

Meanwhile EU Greens are completely trendy, and genuinely stupid.

If all the atmosphere were disolved into the ocean, the ocean level would not rise a noticeable amount. To say a trace gas in that atmosphere can "acidify" the oceans is pure rank ignorance and laughable.

The Modern GEN III+ Nuclear fission plants are as safe as anyone ever really wanted, but they still want them banned in favor of the dirtiest coal imagineable, and ugly, intermittent, land wasting, wind or solar.

Hydropower is not a disaster. Certainly the environment changes but lakes are not vast waste lands compared to an unregulated river. It is merely different, and in many respects superior.


If you make such drastic statements, you should also contribute with some knowledge to back up these statements. I find little of that in your comments. It appears as many of you from the USA on this forum seem to believe that you somehow are better than anybody else. Simply by looking at the air quality in your cities, this cannot be the case. Your graphs look the same as in the EU. Let´s look at some aspects in the comparison between emission limits in EU and the USA:

When you compare emission limits, you simply cannot only compare numbers; you also have to look at the driving cycle and other test conditions. For example, the US FTP-75 is weighing both cold and hot start parts of the cycle together. The European NEDC does not have any such “tricks”. Thus, the number of km (or miles) driven per cold start is roughly twice as long in USA compared to EU. More than 90% of gasoline emissions are generated during cold start and furthermore, the first part of the NEDC has very low speed that delays catalyst light-off. So in essence, this gives more than a factor of 2 between EU and US limits. In practice, “real numbers” are very similar.

In the USA, averaging, emission credits, banking and trading, etc. in practice gives the manufacturer an opportunity to delay the introduction of vehicles that meet the limits. In the EU, no such “tricks” are allowed. For example, if one car model is far below the limit, this cannot be utilized in any possible way, e.g. for other models that do not fulfill the limits. Furthermore, cars meeting future emission limits are introduced in advance in the EU via economic incentives. Thus, the dates for emission limits – and levels as noted above – are pretty much the same in both EU and USA.

Finally, it cannot be a surprise to anyone that the single emission component causing the most health hazard of all is – nanoparticles. These nanoparticles totally dominate particle number emissions. EU was first in the world to regulate these emissions (from Euro 5b on). You fail to recognize this fact. However, you are not alone. The US EPA does not even bother to discuss regulating this health hazard. Thanks to EPA, the CARB proposal will probably be abolished as well.

About nuclear fission: It surprises me that you already seem to have forgotten about Fukushima. If you are so proud of your electricity production, you should look at the numbers and find out how dirty it really is. EU uses much less energy and produce less CO2 per capita than the USA. It also surprises me that you apparently do not understand what global warming is. However, nature tends to punish those who are ignorant and stupid. In a distant future you will probably realize that all the hurricanes that hunt you simply are a result from your contribution to global warming.

Thomas Lankester

'To say a trace gas in that atmosphere can "acidify" the oceans is pure rank ignorance and laughable. '

So limestone caves and stalactites are laughable?

Or is the acidification of water from atmospheric CO2 such basic chemistry that it taught to 12 year olds?

But don't take it from a 'genuinely stupid' European, lets get it from a US (University of Houston) educational source:

Maybe you think that the salt in water 'protects' the oceans from atmospheric CO2 or maybe you don't get that pH is a measure of acidity so a pH drop, by definition, is acidification. Or then again, maybe you don't believe the observations (

As well as flaunting your own 'rank ignorance' of prep school chemistry and physical geography you also seem to be ignorant of the word 'irony'.


@Thomas L
I agree! It is not all about global warming. We can already see the first signs of this acidification (as well as from increased water temperature) on the marine life. It would be a great loss if most of our coral reefs were doomed in a couple of decades. Great changes in atmospheric CO2 have happened in the past with significant consequences. However, now we cause this disaster ourselves, just because we want to drive big fat cars and waste energy in any other possible way.


D must get his science education from talk radio personalities:

If all the atmosphere were disolved into the ocean, the ocean level would not rise a noticeable amount.
There is roughly a ton of atmosphere per square foot of Earth's surface, about 10 tons per square meter.  If the atmosphere was composed of water vapor, condensing it would raise sea levels by about 10 meters.  Ergo, D is not just wrong, but so wrong that a simple mental calculation by your typical junior-high earth science student shows that he's outrageously so.

I was going to address the acidity claim too, but I see that's been dealt with quite ably.

Kit P

“It appears as many of you from the USA on this forum seem to believe that you somehow are better than anybody else. ”

It is not a belief, it is a fact that I am smarter than Peter.

“Simply by looking at the air quality in your cities, this cannot be the case.”

I frequently look at air quality in the US and we have very good air quality. The WHO agrees asking the question if the US can turn things around, why can't the rest of the world.

“It surprises me that you already seem to have forgotten about Fukushima. ”

Well I suppose you do not have to be very smart to know Japan is a different country.

“If you are so proud of your electricity production, you should look at the numbers and find out how dirty it really is. EU uses much less energy and produce less CO2 per capita than the USA.”

How stupid is that statement? Maybe Peter would like Iowa farmers to stop growing his food or Virginia miners stop producing his coal. Or maybe you would like the US military to stop protecting your country.

“Or is the acidification of water from atmospheric CO2 such basic chemistry that it taught to 12 year olds? ”

This fool does not understand the difference between fresh water and the oceans which are alkaline. Actually the chemistry is very complex based on the graduate level environmental chemistry class I took. So Fool Thomas if you are going to provide a link, try getting the right topic.

“pH is a measure of acidity so a pH drop, by definition, is acidification. ”

No that is not correct. “pH is a measure of the activity of the (solvated) hydrogen ion.”

I always love it when people change the meaning of words to match their agenda. Since oceans are alkaline, a decrease in pH would be neutralization.

So Thomas maybe you would like to impress me with your lack of ignorance by explain the fugacity of CO2 in seawater.

“If the atmosphere was composed of water vapor ”

Then the atmosphere would be at 212 F.

The reason I do not like debate AGW it is hard to find someone who bothered take lots of hard science who does not think that AGW is anything more than an interesting theory. Furthermore, CAGW folks lacking basic science skills love ineffective solutions.

Getting back to the original topic, We have shown that we reduce pollution to levels that do not result in health or environmental issues. Yes you can drive you hippie van to a 'save the earth rally' but your time would be better invested in environmental engineering.


Nobody could possibly be as clueless as you are trying to appear to be, so you've got to be trolling.


Is KP part of the 47% or the 53% with their eyes wide shut?

Kit P

Since E-P called me a troll instead of responding with a scientific answer, I can only assume that E-P needs another lesson in basic science. While E-P will not say what kind of engineer he is, I deduce that he is the kind that designs control systems. Nothing wrong with that but he should keep his trap shut in areas that he is ignorant which as far as I can tell is just about everything engineering and common sense.

At the surface of the earth at sea level at 35 degrees C, air can only hold 23 grams of water per cubic meter. Therefore, a 1000 meters of air would would only hold 230 grams. Since air get thinner and colder at higher elevations, air will hold progressive less water.

So it is just a little absurd to think 230 grams is the same as 10 tons.

The next fundamental piece of science that E-P ignored is density. The density of water in the liquid form is much higher than as gas. You would never be able to detect a level increase when putting 280 grams of water in a wading pool let alone 10 meters.

So how much would you see? Except for stupid people with an agenda, we all know. When the overnight temperature falls below the 'dew point' we can observe the condensation but we do not get puddles.

Water vapor is the most important ghg providing 70% of the warming from trapped radiative heat. This why we had cool desert nights where we lived in eastern Washington Sate and hot humid nights where now live in Virginia.

This brings me to Harvey. The first step in figuring out how much you save is know how much you spend. At both houses we replaced old equipment with an equally efficient heat pump. In Washington Sate, it did not save much in summer cooling because we needed to run it only on a few unusual days. In Virginia, we are cooling from May to October.

At the surface of the earth at sea level at 35 degrees C, air can only hold 23 grams of water per cubic meter.
It takes a creationist level of cluelessness, or a similar caliber of trollishness, to ignore the context of that analysis:
If all the atmosphere were disolved into the ocean, the ocean level would not rise a noticeable amount.
So yes, we are talking about adding ten tons per square meter of something to the oceans, not whatever trivial amount can be held as water vapor at STP.  Water was only used as an example, and since that text was quoted in my rebuttal you'd have to be an idiot to fail to grasp that immediately.  Or a troll.  Either way, someone who has nothing worth attention, and worthy of being banned.
Kit P


The statement that D made is 100% correct. The reason is that the atmosphere does not containment very much water. When you add water to water you are not dissolving, you are adding water to water.

When you 'dissolve' something in water the volume dos not change very much because the substance is in solution. If I add 2 inches of sand to to the bottom of swimming pool the level will increase 2 inches because sand is insoluble. If I add two inches of salt to the swimming pool the level will not increase because the salt dissolves in the water. Now if you add more salt than can be dissolved, then the water level will increase because salt is denser than water and sinks to the bottom displacing the water.

So if you can dissolve '10 tons' of gas in water because the volume is large enough because the water is deep enough, then the level would not increase. Of course the gas in the atmosphere is less dense than water so the gases would bubble to the surface.

So in the context of the discussion, E-P is just wrong.


He didn't say "the water in the atmosphere", he said "all the atmosphere".  Again, it takes a young-earth creationist level of cluelessness to mis-read the plain language... or a deliberate, malicious intent to mislead.

You are obviously a paid troll and need to be banned.  Rod Adams appears to have purged a bunch of your falsehoods from his blog, Michael Millikin ought to do the same here.

Kit P

The atmosphere is made up of primarily three things. Nitrogen, oxygen, and water vapor. Then there are traces gases.

E-P claims that if you put the atmosphere above ocean into the ocean that is will increase sea level because it is a really big number. E-P is wrong for two reasons. First it is physically impossible. Second it is the nature of solutions to not change volume significantly.

E-P thinks I disagree with him because I am 'paid troll' but the obvious the reason is I think he wrong.

A few weeks back the NRC thought I was wrong on a question of solubility. I said that an insulating material was 'insoluble' using the manufacturer's MSDS as reference. After reviewing several thousands of pages of reference material for problems with insulation, there are many kinds of piping insulating material that cause problems but not the kind we specify. The reason is that it insoluble. Rather a nice property to have in a steam plant.

The NRC found a test report where this material was slightly less in insoluble than concrete in a test report that we reference. However, that test and out testing was done at a pH = 4.

We had a conference call. I was on the free throw line but I had chemistry guys backing me up if the NRC did not accept my common sense answer. The NRC likes my answer and decided I was not wrong after all.

This is where I disagree with Rod Adams. It is the job of the NRC to ask questions and they are very reasonable if you present a well founded fact based argument. Rod thinks that the NRC is delaying new nuke plants by asking so many questions.

The point is that I am rarely wrong and telling falsehoods is a serious violation of federal law in my line of work. If I am wrong, please tell me[ that how you learn. Most people here like E-P just make up stuff so they think that that is what other do.

E-P is wrong for two reasons. First it is physically impossible.
At 5°C, water dissolves about 13 mg/l/bar of oxygen; at 350 bar, this would be 4.5 g/liter.  Mass of the oceans is 1.4e24 grams, mass of the atmosphere is 5.1e21 grams; it would take about 1 part in 250 (4 g/liter) of air in water to dissolve all of Earth's atmosphere in the oceans.  This is clearly possible given that the average ocean floor depth is 3720 meters, with a pressure close to 400 bar; the maximum pressure is much higher.
Second it is the nature of solutions to not change volume significantly.
So you're claiming that dissolving air into water would increase the density (mass increased, volume unchanged) and lead to a denser liquid which would tend to remain on the bottom.  In other words, according to you it WOULD be possible to dissolve the atmosphere into the oceans and maybe even keep it there!  I love it when you contradict yourself, especially when you do it while trying to defend an obviously false claim from another troll like D.
If I am wrong, please tell me[ that how you learn.
I do.  I link to sources.  Where's your source for the claim that solutions do not change volume significantly... specifically solutions of gases in water?  Practice what you preach.

Solutions of salt in water do increase in density, but a water/salt solution which is 10% salt by weight only has a density of 1.071 at 20°C; the volume of the solution has obviously increased by some 3%.

Most people here like E-P just make up stuff so they think that that is what other do.
In other words, the Kit P troll claims I'm making up the links I cite and the calculations I do, while he provides neither.  He sounds off in agenda-congruent sound bites instead of facts.  PAID TROLL!

Kit P

It is nice to see E-P is using science before name calling.

3% = 'not very much'

Thanks for making my point.

Second dissolving air in water is a standard practice in shallow waste water treatment ponds. It is very energy intensive. Compressing huge volumes of air to 5000 psi and getting it to the bottom the ocean to bubble up until is completely dissolved is physically impossible.

People have never done anything are always doing really stupid calculations and providing links. For example how many times have we seen calculations that solar PV can provide all the electricity the world needs. I am not saying you can not make a small amount of power with solar but trying to explain it physically impossible.

3% = 'not very much'
Actually, it's 4% (water is only 90% of the mass of the solution).  Since the original salt (ρ=2.16) is less than 5% of the volume of the total, the 4% expansion is 80% of the volume of the added solute.

In other words, you're wrong.  Furthermore, you still haven't cited a single fact in support of your claims.

Compressing huge volumes of air to 5000 psi and getting it to the bottom the ocean to bubble up until is completely dissolved is physically impossible.
But you just stated that the only limit is energy, and D did not place any constraints (including energy) in his statement.  Which has been put in front of you multiple times.  Which you expertly ignore and obfuscate.  PAID TROLL!

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