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How Continuous Monitoring can be an Integral Component to Green Recovery

The buzzword circulating in recent weeks is “Green Recovery” – the idea of making changes that will sustain and continue to improve better air quality as cities reopen post-COVID. These changes are necessary if we want to protect our health. Low to zero-emission vehicles and accurate emissions testing technology, such as EDAR, will be an indispensable part of this green recovery.

Transportation is one of the largest contributors to air pollution, and our personal cars are a big part of this pollution. According to a Newsbook article, citing a report from the European Environment Agency, “passenger cars produce around 40% of the EU’s NOx emissions, making them a significant source of air pollution, particularly in urban areas,” and with the summer heat in full swing, remote sensing studies with EDAR have shown that these NOx emissions could actually be even higher.

This problem sounds like an easy fix – simply remove the highest polluting cars from the road as cleaner and newer vehicles are introduced, but it is not that simple. The gap between lab test emissions and real-world emissions remains significant, and emissions fraud abounds with Israel being the latest country to file suit against Volkswagen worth $152 million.

Countries around the world are implementing tax breaks and subsidies for clean vehicle purchases, new taxes on high emitting vehicles, and financial support for researching innovative clean vehicles, among other solutions.

However, new vehicles and lawsuits alone will not be enough. We have to address vehicular pollution from both ends: new technology and mitigating impacts from old, high-emitting vehicles. We have to know what the vehicle fleet is emitting under real-world driving conditions, and MEPs are aiming to create even more stringent testing protocols.

The EU has already taken steps in the right direction by being the “first region in the world to introduce real driving emissions (RDE) tests to measure such pollutants emitted by vehicles while driven on the road." On July 14th, the European Commission issued a press release highlighting an Environment Committee meeting to discuss the discrepancies between real-world and laboratory testing and aim to “substantially reduce NOx emissions to address the serious problems caused by air pollution.” The ultimate goal is to eradicate these discrepancies by September 2022.

It is also apparent that tampering is widespread, and cheat devices are highly accessible. For instance, a vehicle owner can buy an AdBlue emulator from the popular website Alibaba for a mere $15. As Europe looks to the future of emissions standards with Euro 7/VII, measures need implementing ensuring the latest emissions control technologies are performing properly over time without significant degradation and that tampering is not occurring. According to a paper released by CITA, the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee, “current after-treatment systems are so efficient that they allow engines to be designed without some of the past limitations. Therefore, malfunction or the tampering of those after-treatment systems creates vehicles that are much dirtier than those fulfilling older standards.” In essence, if a driver buys one of these inexpensive, widely available emulators, their vehicle could be spewing even more emissions than ever before!

So, how can we move towards a cleaner future?

Continuous monitoring with EDAR is a solution to reducing the discrepancies that concern the commission. EDAR measures real-world emissions from vehicles under natural driving conditions, not under laboratory conditions. EDAR is already utilized around the globe in emissions testing programs, but there is so much more potential.

Installing a network of EDAR devices around a city would provide invaluable data on the real emissions of vehicles moving through the city. EDAR can monitor 24/7, unmanned, and with no calibration, providing an incredible number of emissions measurements for a fraction of the cost of conducting a standard emissions test.

We do not have much time! The International Energy Agency estimates a six-month window in which the green recovery must begin, or our opportunity to leverage the air quality improvements from the lockdown and build back better will diminish.

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