Reducing automotive emissions – The potentials of combustion engine technologies and the power of policy

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2011)


Automotive emissions, internal combustion engines, regulation


Reducing transport emissions, in particular vehicular emissions, is a key element when
mitigating the risks of climate change. In much of the academic and public discourse the
focus has been on alternative vehicle technologies and fuels (e.g. electric cars, fuel cells
and hydrogen), whereas vehicles based on internal combustion engine technologies have
been perceived as close to their development limits. This paper offers a different
perspective by demonstrating the accelerated improvement processes taking place in
established combustion technologies in response to new EU emissions legislation and the
ensuing competition between manufacturers and different technologies. Future regulation
has a key role for driving continuous emissions reductions. Based on a comparison of
four different regulatory approaches, the paper identifies the need for a long-term
technology-neutral framework in Europe with stepwise increasing stringencies which will
continue to drive innovation and diffusion in the most effective way.

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