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BUDGET 2017

New emissions scheme includes four more pollutants

Diesel vehicles seen as main culprit of pollution from vehicular emissions
Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 05:50

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The new Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) will be more stringent and have five bands instead of the current nine, with the maximum rebate or surcharge lowered by S$10,000, as the government heads towards a diesel-free city.

Singapore

THE new Vehicular Emissions Scheme (VES) will be more stringent and have five bands instead of the current nine, with the maximum rebate or surcharge lowered by S$10,000, as the government heads towards a diesel-free city.

As mentioned by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Budget speech last month, the current Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) will be replaced by VES from Jan 1, 2018 for two years.

CEVS, which is due to expire on June 30, 2017, is being extended until Dec 31, 2017. It measures only the carbon dioxide part of a vehicle's exhaust emissions.

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For cars, the four bands each for rebates and surcharges have been S$5,000, S$10,000, S$15,000 and S$30,000 since July 1, 2015.

But under VES, four more pollutants are included in the rebate/surcharge criteria - hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter (PM).

VES has only two rebate/surcharge bands for cars and taxis. For cars, they are S$10,000 and S$20,000, with the VES rebate or surcharge to be determined by its worst-performing pollutant.

In his speech, Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng called emissions from motor vehicles one of the largest sources of air pollution.

"Vehicular emissions contribute about half of locally produced PM2.5 pollution. Diesel vehicles are the main culprit,'' he said.

Mr Ng pointed to a study postulating that nitrogen dioxide produced by diesel vehicles is linked to around 23,500 deaths in the UK each year.

He added: "In Singapore, we are enhancing our Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) to incentivise a shift towards the purchase of lower emissions vehicles.''

As petrol-engined cars emit lower levels of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter than diesel-powered versions, carbon dioxide will still be the key element in determining financial incentives or disincentives.

For cars, the carbon dioxide neutral band - which neither attracts a rebate nor incurs a surcharge - has been tightened from the current 136-185 g/km to 125-160 g/km. And the higher rebate is now capped at below 90 g/km.

So while petrol-electric hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, will still qualify for the maximum rebate, they will get only S$20,000 instead of the current S$30,000.

For vehicles already on the road, they will be inspected under stricter in-use emission standards from April 1, 2018.

In his speech, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said these standards for petrol vehicles and motorcycles are similar to those already in place in Europe and Japan.

He said they are designed to be easily met by properly maintained vehicles and will help minimise excessive emissions due to vehicle defects or poor maintenance.

Under the new criteria, current carbon monoxide (CO) exhaust emission limits for in-use petrol vehicles and motorcycles will be lowered for newer petrol vehicles and motorcycles.

In addition, hydrocarbon (HC) limits will be introduced for all in-use petrol vehicles and most motorcycles. The National Environment Agency said the revised standards are expected to result in reductions of up to 55 per cent and 51 per cent for CO and HC vehicular emissions respectively.

Separately, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in his speech that the implementation of Euro 6 emission standards next year will "bring in cleaner commercial vehicles''.

He said: "Let me stress that transport impacts our health. Europe's embrace of diesel vehicles has now made many cities highly pollutive. It is a sad case of unethical commercial practices making money at the expense of public health.''

To reverse the trend, Mr Khaw said Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City have announced that they will ban diesel vehicles from their city centres by 2030 at the latest. "We too should nudge down the population of diesel vehicles and work towards becoming a diesel-free city. The restructuring of the diesel tax should be read in that context.''

On Feb 20, 2017, a duty of 10 cents per litre on automotive diesel, industrial diesel and the diesel component of biodiesel was introduced to encourage lower diesel consumption.

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