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Counting Costs: MAN Truck & Bus on Euro V adoption

The damning figure of 80 micrograms of pollutants per cubic metre marks the Emirates with the dubious accolade of being the most polluted country in the world

Dr Richard Brown, head of product management at MAN Truck & Bus Middle East.
Dr Richard Brown, head of product management at MAN Truck & Bus Middle East.

The World Bank has raised serious concerns about environmental pollution for the UAE with its July report. The damning figure of 80 micrograms of pollutants per cubic metre marks the Emirates with the dubious accolade of being the most polluted country in the world.

“You might have thought this ungraceful position would belong to China or India — given the pictures of smog-blanketed mega cities in mind — but the UAE is yielding concerning results,” says Dr Richard Brown, head of product management at MAN Truck & Bus Middle East, noting that Germany registers a fraction of this figure, recording an average of under 20 micrograms of pollutants per cubic metre.

Pollution reduction is a priority for the UAE government’s 2030 energy roadmap drawn up by the Masdar Institute and the International Renewable Energy Agency, which anticipates an 8.5% drop in oil use and a 16% drop in natural gas — but this figure applies primarily to heavy industry and manufacturing.

“According to the IEA, the transport sector consumes 22% of the energy produced in the UAE, but experts anticipate only a slow shift toward pollutant-free power sources like electrical energy storage, biogas or biofuels, owing to the high costs and lack of infrastructure.

“The only short-term solution is to lower pollutant emissions, and the first step in this direction was taken by UAE authorities in making Euro V fuel available for commercial vehicles in 2014,” says Dr Richard Brown.

In Europe, with the introduction of Euro VI standards in 2015, the allowable limits for particulate matter, mono-nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons, are being steadily and systematically reduced.

“But comparing the Gulf’s legislation for heavy commercial diesel emissions with even just Euro V emission norms, we see significant potential (a six-fold margin) for pollution reduction,” says Dr Brown.

“With the introduction of low sulphur diesel, the UAE government has made a significant investment into emission control, but Euro V fuel is not mandatory and the transport business is yet to react.”

The health risks, meanwhile, range from eye and lung irritation to outcomes like obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure.

Dr Brown adds: “It would be false to claim there are no cost implications for the purchase and operation of Euro V-compliant vehicles. There is indeed a purchase price difference, but in many countries there are also subsidies provided for transport operators to encourage the introduction of vehicles with lower emissions.

“This is not the only solution, but accepting an increase in grocery prices as a result of increased charges from transport operators in exchange for cleaner air — that seems like a pretty fair deal.”

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Nov 09, 2019