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On- and off-road engines

Action 6.4: Harmonisation of standards in the Arctic

Emissions standards play a substantial role to regulate existing technologies and to create incentives for new technologies for on- and off-road vehicles.


Area of action
On- and off-road engines
Harmonisation and fulfilment of engine emission standards in the Arctic region
Type of intervention
Funding of research and innovation
Regulation/legislative proposals
Time perspective
Long term
Structural change
Jurisdictional scope
International, National
Policy forum
EU, AC, national authorities and research organisations
Kholod and Evans (2016a), Kholod and Evans (2016b)

Harmonisation of existing and development of new emission standards for engines is one of the key actions to reduce black carbon emissions from mobile sources. Engines following the most recent EU and US standards emit only a fraction of black carbon per unit of fuel used compared with older engines.

The current status of emission standard implementation varies between the Arctic countries. Regarding the on-road vehicles, EU have an ongoing introduction of cleaner Euro-vehicle standards and implement Euro 6-standards since 2014, while North America have CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. Russia has implemented Euro 5 emission standards for on-road vehicles since 2016.

Off-road diesel vehicles make a significant input to the total black carbon emissions from mobile sources, especially in the Arctic region. Emission standard for off-road vehicles varies as well. The EU has moved from Stage I towards the latest regulations on Stage V. The US regulates non-road vehicles through Tier 1-3 Standards which are partly harmonised with EU regulations of Stage I and II and to large degree with Stages III/IV. Russia has adopted some European emission standards for vehicles used in agriculture and forestry, but their implementation is substantially delayed. Particulate matter emission regulation for other types of off-road machinery in Russia (trains, ships, machines used in mining and construction works, etc.) is missing (Kholod et al. 2016), so policies targeting this source could significantly contribute to black carbon emission reductions in the Russian Arctic.

Implementation of higher emission standards could be enhanced by policies and regulations aimed at reducing the number of old, high-emitting vehicles on the roads – for instance, by promoting vehicle scrapping programmes, introducing vehicles zones, or simply prohibiting the use of high-emitting vehicles on the roads. The need to fulfil strict emissions standards could lead to further technology improvements and changes in the fuel structure, such as a switch to natural gas as engine fuel (an ongoing initiative led by corporate interests).

Research on emissions during alternative test-driving cycles is important to provide information and guidance for the development of new emission standards and to verify that engines fulfil emission requirements. National and international research projects on black carbon could consider activities such as conducting black carbon emission measurement campaigns specifically focused on mobile sources in the Arctic region.