Car traffic: soon 15 million tons less CO2?

DEKRA shows ways to optimize environmental protection

Car exhaust © IMSI MasterClips
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Short-term measures can reduce CO2 emissions in passenger car traffic by 15 million tonnes a year. The particle load could be reduced by a quarter. This is what DEKRA pointed out at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt. The international expert organization therefore called for an offensive to optimize environmental protection.

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"We can already make an effective and sustainable contribution to safe and clean mobility today. With an integrated approach that includes technology, drivers and infrastructure alike, it can quickly eliminate more than 15 million tonnes of CO2 and one-quarter of total particulate pollution. With longer-term measures, another 16 million tonnes of CO2 and a further 50% of total particulate emissions could be saved, "said Klaus Schmidt, CEO of DEKRA. For this, the understanding of the drivers must be awakened, the legal framework created and the appropriate technologies used quickly.

"In Germany alone, traffic causes CO2 emissions of around 160 million tonnes per year. 56 percent of today's vehicle population does not meet modern emission standards. The drivers are also insufficiently educated how they themselves can contribute to the prevention of pollutants. And an immense part of the burden is caused by deficiencies in the infrastructure. Nevertheless, there are already fast-paced measures that can be used to permanently reduce the environmental impact, "stated Schmidt.

Particulate filter for six million diesel cars

In the vehicle sector, DEKRA experts are focusing on optimizing fuel consumption and reducing pollutants thanks to state-of-the-art vehicle technology. Start-stop technology, downsizing of engines, low-rolling-resistance tires, modern low-viscosity oils and other technologies provide potential CO2 savings of two to ten percent each. The consistent use of start-stop systems alone can save 300, 000 tonnes of CO2. In addition, six million diesel-powered passenger cars registered in Germany today could be retrofitted with particulate filters. Schmidt: "That corresponds to a reduction potential of around 4, 000 tons of particle mass or 25 percent per year." Display

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In the case of passenger cars with petrol engines, a dramatic improvement in emissions has already been achieved in recent years by modern exhaust gas treatment systems, according to the DEKRA boss. Therefore, the further optimization potential lies solely in the reduction of fuel consumption and thus of CO2 emissions as well as in the gradual renewal of the 23 million end-of-life vehicles with emission class Euro 1 and Euro 2.

Six million tons of CO2 reduction through driver training

On the other hand, measures that start with the driving behavior of each individual are significantly faster. Driving tests by the DEKRA Academy with drivers' license newcomers who were specifically trained in economical driving methods resulted in savings of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of ten percent each on the test tracks. DurchOnly the approximately 900, 000 new license holders in Germany result in potential savings of just under 300, 000 tonnes, emphasized Schmidt. "Targeted training for all drivers could reduce annual CO2 emissions in Germany by almost six million tons." For Schmidt, therefore, there is no question that training should be anchored in driving instruction in economical driving style and later repeated periodically.

In the opinion of the DEKRA CEO, the use of navigation systems and modern driver assistance systems also belongs to training in economical driving: "The modern technology is available, we only have to use it to optimize the traffic flow and thus to achieve the environmental protection goals."

Jam avoidance brings the highest contribution

An additional cornerstone of a systematic CO2 reduction program, DEKRA believes, must be to improve the flow of traffic, especially in conurbations. Long service lives at traffic lights and stop-and-go traffic on main roads increase fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions. At DEKRA test drives in the city of Stuttgart, CO2 emissions increased under unfavorable conditions by 60 percent. "If traffic congestion could be reduced by 50 percent by improving transport infrastructure and the use of modern information technology for traffic control, there would be a short-term savings potential of eight million tonnes of CO2, " explained Schmidt. According to Schmidt, optimization potential consists above all in the introduction of traffic management centers in conurbations, their networking with the surrounding area and each other, and the accelerated use of modern technologies for dynamic traffic control.

Investment in infrastructure necessary

In addition to the measures that can be implemented in the short term, the DEKRA experts have also calculated recommendations for action for long-term measures. This includes, among other things, the gradual replacement of currently 3.2 million diesel vehicles, which are rated worse than Euro 3. Up to the year 2020, the fleet renewal of all diesel vehicles results in a savings potential of 8, 000 tons. This equates to 50% of today's total emissions. Reductions of 144, 000 tonnes of nitrogen oxides or hydrocarbons as well as carbon monoxide savings of 300, 000 tonnes are to be expected for refurbished vehicles for Euro 1 and Euro 2 petrol cars.

"But with around three million new registrations a year, a complete renewal of the fleet can only be achieved in ten to fifteen years, " said Schmidt. It also requires significant investment in the overall improvement of transport infrastructure and innovative information and communication technologies: this will help avoid a further 16 million tonnes of CO2 over the long term. That's a minus of ten percent.

Schmidt called on motorists, legislators and manufacturers to make the most of short-term measures to protect the environment in the best possible way: Successes can be achieved very quickly. And without improving environmental protection, there is no sustainable mobility

(DEKRA, 13.09.2007 - DLO)