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Singapore to raise vehicle emission standard

After discussing it for almost a decade, Singapore will finally implement a new vehicle tailpipe emission standard that will result in cleaner air for all.

The Straits Times understands that the National Environment Agency (NEA) is aiming to raise the emission standard of petrol vehicles to Euro IV by January 2014, up from the current Euro II standard in place since 2001.

If implemented, all new vehicles sold must meet the standard by then. Existing vehicles will not be affected.

The cleanup could mean slightly costlier vehicles and fuel.

Euro emission standards are strictly enforced in the European Union. Several countries elsewhere have followed suit or are going to.

Singapore is considered behind the curve in this respect, although it adopted Euro IV standards for diesel engines in 2006.

The NEA had over the last several years moved to raise petrol- vehicle emission standards, but attempts were derailed by factors like economic slowdowns and an insistence by oil firms that refineries needed more time to ramp up desulphurization capacity.

The agency would not comment on the implementation date when contacted, saying “details will be announced when ready”.

But it confirmed that it had been in talks with stakeholders on a move towards Euro IV.

Observers reckon the newfound urgency may have to do with Singapore’s air quality. Data released recently by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources shows that air quality last year was poorer than in 2007.

In fact, levels of sulphur dioxide and particulate matter (fine soot) are well beyond World Health Organization guidelines.

Sulphur dioxide contributes to acid rain while fine soot poses respiratory risks.

The Euro IV standard specifies a significant reduction in pollutants emitted from vehicles. For instance, a Euro IV-compliant car cannot emit more than 1g of carbon monoxide per kilometer - 70 per cent less than allowed in Euro II.

Hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions are slashed by a similar amount, to 0.1g/km and 0.08g/km respectively.

Hydrocarbons have been found to cause cancer while nitrogen oxide harms the respiratory system. Carbon monoxide is highly toxic.

Petrol quality will also be raised as Euro IV vehicles require cleaner fuel. One of the main components to be reduced is sulphur, which will be slashed from 500 parts per million to 50. This will reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide and fine soot leaving tailpipes.

Industry players said the NEA is targeting January 2014 as the implementation date, even if no formal notice has been given yet. “We take it that they will implement it by January 2014, and are preparing to comply as such,” said a motor trader.

Some Japanese players are asking for the so-called Japan 2005 standard - which they claim is a Euro IV equivalent - to be accepted as well, but most other companies said they have no problem complying with Euro IV requirements.

Green activist Olivia Choong, 33, said the move towards Euro IV is long overdue. “It is definitely a healthier option. It will further underscore Singapore’s status as an eco city,” she said.

“But my question is, why not Euro V?”

Euro V is the standard observed in Europe.

The NEA is understood to be working on a Euro V roll-out as early as two years after Euro IV is implemented.

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