Tuesday 24 June 2014

Euro 6 for petrol vehicles from 2017

* Stricter emission standard from Sept that year to further reduce pollution
By Christopher Tan, The Straits Times, 2 Dec 2014

Confirming what The Straits Times reported in June, the NEA said the new regulation will further reduce nitrogen oxide and fine particulate emissions.

Industry sources reckon Euro 6 will apply to diesel vehicles from Jan 1, 2018, although the NEA said this has not been confirmed yet.

Currently, the standards for petrol and diesel vehicles here are Euro 4 and 5, respectively.

Euro 6 is the highest engine emission standard set by the European Union.

The European Union's vehicular emission standards have been progressively implemented in Singapore and other countries.

When Euro 6 takes effect in Singapore in 2017, it may be the first country in South-east Asia to implement it.

The NEA said that it has been in consultation with the automotive industry since early this year, in order to provide manufacturers sufficient lead time to develop models that can meet the new standard.

The agency said there will be an adequate supply of relevant vehicles for consumers to choose from by the time the new standard kicks in.

In 2006, when the Euro 4 standard was rolled out for diesel vehicles, Japanese manufacturers - which controlled the lion's share of the market - did not have models that complied with Euro 4.

That led to a crash in the certificate of entitlement (COE) prices.

With that, thousands of commercial vehicle owners extended the lifespan of their ageing fleet which, in effect, delayed the desired outcome of Euro 4 implementation by several years.

With the Euro 6 standard for vehicles being rolled out, oil companies will have to get their fuels cleaned up as well.

They have up to Jan 1, 2017 to reduce key pollutants in diesel, and up to July 1, 2017 to do the same for petrol.

However, oil companies have up to Jan 1 and Dec 1, 2018 to meet all the new requirements for diesel and petrol, respectively.

Mr Neo Nam Heng, president of the Automobile Importer and Exporter Association, said: "Since it has been found that light commercial vehicles account for the bulk of vehicular pollution, we should have incentives to encourage petrol-electric hybrid models."

Singapore targets Euro 6 emission standards for vehicles
Switch to Euro 6 in 2017 part of effort to reduce hazardous fine particulate matter in the air
By Christopher Tan, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2014

SINGAPORE will adopt the Euro 6 emission standard for petrol and diesel vehicles as early as 2017, making it possibly the first country in the region to embrace the most stringent regulation to reduce harmful exhaust emissions.

Currently, the standard for petrol and diesel vehicles in Singapore is Euro 4 and 5, respectively.

The emission standards are set by the European Union, and impose strict rules on tailpipe gases of new vehicles sold in EU member states. It has also been progressively implemented in Singapore and other countries.

Singapore's move towards Euro 6 is yet another effort to reduce fine particulate matter in the air - a serious health hazard.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, responding to queries from The Straits Times, explained that the aim was "to address the concern that recently popular compression injection diesel engines and gasoline direct injection engines actually increase the emissions of ultra-fine particulates".

These ultra-fine particulates make up the bulk of particulate emissions and are very small and light.

Apart from tightening up on particulate emissions, the Euro 6 emission standards will also reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides - another harmful air pollutant - said the ministry.

Although the ministry said that it has not arrived at an implementation date, motor industry players said they have been informed of a rollout in the second half of 2017.

While European brands are confident that they will be able to meet such a deadline - all new European cars registered from January will have to be Euro 6-compliant to meet EU requirements - it may be a challenge for the Japanese, as there is currently no equivalent standard in Japan.

A Toyota Motor Asia-Pacific spokesman said: "We are reviewing our product strategy while working closely with the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, who we understand has provided input to the National Environment Agency."

Mr Vincent Ng, product manager at Honda agent Kah Motor, said: "Honda has indicated that a three-year notice would be a comfortable timeline."

That means it needs formal written notice about now.

A BMW Asia spokesman added: "Currently, about 95 per cent of our portfolio is Euro 6-compliant. Only some models require updates... but all are scheduled to be compliant by end-2015."

Mr Neo Nam Heng, president of the Automobile Importer and Exporter Association, said that it has been told of the 2017 implementation.

But he stressed that all major players must be able to meet that deadline, "otherwise we will have another big headache".

He was referring to the 2006 rollout of Euro 4 for diesel vehicles. The Japanese were not ready then, and that led to a crash in the certificate of entitlement (COE) prices. With that, thousands of commercial vehicle owners extended the lifespan of their ageing fleet - many of which are still on the road today.

The ministry said that it is mindful of the lessons learnt in the 2006 experience, which will be taken into account for all upcoming measures.

While the motor trade has been told of a 2017 target, it seems oil companies - whose products such as petrol and diesel also have to burn more cleanly under the new standards - have a longer time to comply. Currently, such products here need meet only Euro 4 standards.

The Straits Times understands that oil companies have up to January 2018 to meet the Euro 5 standard for diesel. For petrol, they have up to December 2018.

"So far, there's been no word on Euro 6," an industry source said.

Asian Clean Fuels Association executive director Clarence Woo said it is crucial to reduce particulate matter, "some of which are so fine they can enter your body through your skin".

He added that other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides should also be reduced drastically, as these can "lead to secondary formation of particulate matter".

Singapore measuring its carbon footprint
5-year project to study greenhouse gas levels, greenery's mitigating effect
By Feng Zengkun, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2014

SINGAPORE has started an ambitious five-year project to measure its own carbon footprint, as well as the mitigating effect of the island's greenery.

The authorities want to develop a monitoring system that tracks how much trees, soil and possibly even the grass help to reduce greenhouse gases.

An accurate inventory is needed since international groups, using different calculating techniques, have come up with widely fluctuating emissions figures.

To make sure the system passes muster, the National Parks Board has roped in the National Institute of Education (NIE) and theAustrian Natural Resources Management and International Cooperation Agency (Anrica). Anrica, which comprises several Austrian government agencies and private firms, focuses on climate change and rural redevelopment issues.

The findings will be submitted regularly to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as part of Singapore's obligations as a party to the convention.

The project started last November and will be completed in 2018. It will span five phases, each lasting about one year.

Satellite images will be used to classify Singapore's vegetation into different categories. Sample land plots will be chosen, and researchers are expected to be in the field by the end of this year to collect data, such as trunk diameters, from vegetation.

Soil samples will also be taken as the earth also absorbs greenhouse gases. Ground and satellite data will be plugged into established equations to calculate how much of the gases are absorbed by the various plant species here.

"The report will be an attempt to estimate, with the highest possible degree of accuracy, Singapore's carbon inventory," NIE lecturer and Nature Society (Singapore) president Shawn Lum said.

Carbon accounting experts said the data could help Singapore take better care of the environment. If the research reveals that a certain plant species absorbs more carbon dioxide, for instance, more could be planted.

A 2010 report by environment group World Wide Fund for Nature ranked Singapore's carbon footprint per person as the highest in the Asia-Pacific, based on all imports here.

The Government disagreed with how this was measured, and said it uses the UN method, which attributes such emissions to the country producing the goods.

Singapore contributes less than 0.2 per cent of global emissions, it added. The Government has pledged to cut emissions by between 7 per cent and 11 per cent below 2020 estimates of 77.2 million tonnes per year.

Vertical gardens' benefits go beyond dollars and cents
By Audrey Tan, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2014

THOSE who live or work in buildings with vertical gardens enjoy being closer to greenery, birds and butterflies, and feel inspired to lead more environmentally friendly lives, they say.

Earlier this month, City Developments (CDL), the developer of the Tree House condominium in Bukit Timah, announced that its 24-storey vertical garden had clinched a Guinness World Record for being the world's largest.

It is one of 154 vertical garden projects in Singapore, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said in response to queries.

Others include vertical gardens in hotel Parkroyal on Pickering and the Ocean Financial Centre, which last held the record of being the world's largest vertical garden.

Vertical gardens are often highlighted for helping save costs by cooling surface temperatures and reducing the need for air-conditioning; but those who live or work in such buildings are quick to point out that the benefits go beyond dollars and cents.

Tree House resident Bernard Lee, 35, for one, pointed out how the garden attracts wildlife, such as birds, butterflies and snails.

Said the civil servant: "We see them on our evening strolls around the estate and these strolls serve as science lessons for our two young kids, aged seven and four."

For Ms Mariquel Pacheco, operations manager at Parkroyal on Pickering, working in the green building has inspired her to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Said the 28-year-old: "In such a green environment, I find myself making a conscious effort to conserve energy, use less water and recycle paper and newspapers."

A National Parks Board (NParks) spokesman said such gardens can reduce "the urban heat island effects" by cooling surface temperatures by up to 12 deg C - something that Mr Lee can attest to.

"There is no need for air-conditioning during the year-end period. In fact, we had to shut our windows in December last year," he said.

Mr Tan Swee Yiow, president of Singapore operations at Keppel Land, which developed the Ocean Financial Centre, noted that tenants felt that green buildings enhance the overall well-being of employees as they benefit from features such as better air quality.

"The urban plaza at Ocean Financial Centre, where the green wall and art pieces are located, has also become a common meeting place for many in Raffles Place," he added.

There is no specific requirements for a building before a vertical garden can be built, NParks said, although approval is needed from the relevant authorities.

The Government is also encouraging more developers to green their buildings under the enhanced Landscaping for Urban Spaces and High-Rises (Lush) programme, where developers enjoy perks if they install more skyrise greenery in their buildings.

For instance, those who convert rooftops into gardens at buildings in the Orchard and Downtown Core areas can get bonus gross floor area for an outdoor dining space.

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