Cost of emissions

In a recent proposal from the European commission harmonised rules for public procurement are proposed:

The proposal has the ambition to promote clean and energy efficient vehicles.

A major difficulty is to find the right level of detail, to give efficient support and still open for new initiatives.

This is commonly done by maintaining technology neutrality, to address the targeted properties, energy consumption, emissions of green house gases etc.

Spontaneously, I feel that the proposal has found a very efficient approach.

By targeting life cycle cost in article 3.1:

For the purposes of this Directive, operational lifetime costs for energy consumption,

CO2 emissions, and pollutant emissions linked to the operation of the vehicles under

procurement shall be monetised and calculated following the methodology set out in

points (a), (b) and (c).


In the annex table 2 sets values to the cost of some emissions.

Table 2: Cost for emissions in road transport (in 2007 prices):

CO2   2 €cents/kg

NOx  0.44 €cents/g

NMHC 0.1 €cents/g

Particulate Matter  8.7 €cents/g

The prices will be adjusted year by year, as more knowledge about the cost is gained. I am sure that there will be a lot of debate about specific values and that some adjustments may be made. But those are detail.

I am impressed that the commission had the guts to set official values for the cost of emissions and to use them comparing different means of transports.

It certainly supports the technology neutral approach!

In a future extension it will be interesting to se how we can adjust the cost for the emissions to account for regional differences for the emissions where this is justified. For example 1 g NOx should have a different cost in London as compared to northern Finland. But, again those are details.

Now, the same principles can be used for evaluating different means of transports trams, metro, bus, etc.

Most importantly we can from now on put a price on the cost of the emissions, independently of where in the well-to-wheel chain the energy is converted.

CO2generated in a coal powered electricity plant, where the electricity is used to motor the tram, in the total well-to-wheel life cycle cost, it will have equal price as the C02 from a diesel bus.

The proposal promotes the most cost efficient way to achieve environmental improvement and will thus be good for competitiveness.

This is an important subject and I have reasons to return to it at future dates.


About volvobuses

Adjunct Professor of Catalysis at Chalmers University of Technology. Lives in Gothenburg, Sweden, with my wife and three daughters born in 1991, 1994 and 1997. Is a passionate runner.
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