Reducing Black Carbon Emissions from Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles and Engines


An estimated 19 percent of global black carbon emissions come from the transportation sector, with a relatively large share from diesel vehicles

The Challenge

Heavy-duty diesel engines and equipment are significant sources of black carbon, toxics, greenhouse gases and other harmful emissions. An estimated 19 percent of black carbon emissions in the world come from the transportation sector, with a relatively large share coming from diesel vehicles.

Most of the emissions from older diesel vehicles come in the form of particulate matter, 75 percent of which is typically black carbon.  Black carbon has major effects both on human health and the climate, with a global warming potential second only to CO2. Particulate matter is among the top human health risk factors, resulting in millions of premature deaths worldwide every year.

Major sources of diesel emissions include road transport and non-road transport, such as construction and agricultural equipment, locomotives and marine vessels.

What the CCAC is Doing

The CCAC Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicles and Engines Initiative (HDDI) aims to catalyze major reductions in black carbon through adoption of clean fuel and vehicle regulations and supporting policies. Our efforts focus on diesel engines in all economic sectors.

Our works entails laying the technical and political groundwork that will enable global black carbon emission reductions from new and in-use vehicles by developing:

  • A global fuel sulfur strategy that addresses the major hurdles facing low sulfur fuels today, from financing to obstructive subsidies and political inertia.
  • National programs to address emissions from the existing vehicle stock, including retrofits, scrappage, inspection and maintenance.
  • A high-level coalition of industry, country and NGO leaders in support of the Green Freight Call to Action to improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of freight operations worldwide.

The HDDI works with several countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia to produce black carbon inventories, form national task forces and regional coalitions for harmonized black carbon reduction strategies and policies, and set target dates for introduction of 50 ppm fuel sulfur content standards.


Jan 2014: High-level Briefings and Presentations for Fuel Economy Policy Options in Indonesia

At the end of 2013 and early in 2014 the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and the Environmental Protection Agency of the US (both CCAC partners) briefed the ambassadors of Indonesia and the US on better air quality options for Indonesia through the introduction of clean fuel and vehicle programs. A delegation from Indonesia's Ministry of Environment also visited Washington, DC and was introduced to the CCAC and its Heavy-Duty Diesel Initiative, including black carbon reduction opportunities in the transport sector.

Dec 2013: National and Sub-Regional Workshops on Low Sulfur Standards in East Africa

The Heavy-Duty Diesel Initiative is supporting the East Africa Community (EAC) as it introduces low sulfur fuels with a maximum sulfur content of 50 ppm. Through this support, the region has made significant progress toward the adoption of low sulfur fuels. 

In June 2013, at an EAC meeting, the EAC Council of Ministers (Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment) approved the adoption of regional harmonized low sulfur fuel standards (50 ppm for diesel and 150 ppm for petrol). This was the culmination of efforts initiated by the Partnership for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles and the European Union with support from CCAC providing a crucial last push. A sub-regional workshop  to discuss the implementation of the harmonized low sulfur standards was held in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2013. In December, the standards were gazetted as the regional standards and will become effective in the country by the end of 2014.

Dec 2013: US and China Commit to Work Together to Achieve China VI Standards

During a discussion between US Vice President Joe Biden and China President Xi Jinping in early December, both countries committed to implement and enforce their current schedules for phase-in of low-sulfur fuel and for motor vehicle emissions standards. Under its current schedule, China will phase in low sulfur diesel fuel nationwide by end of 2017.

Dec 2013: US, Mexico, and Canada Announce Trilateral Commitment to CCAC at the North American Leaders Summit

On December 19, 2013 President Obama met in Toluca, Mexico, with President Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada for the North American Leaders Summit. During the summit, leaders declared a North American adherence to high standards of fuel quality, emissions controls and fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles, as well as announced their tri-lateral commitment to the CCAC.  Mexico is currently working on finalizing world-class emission standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses, which would require ultra-low sulfur fuel, and harmonizing with emission standards in the US and Canada.

Nov 2013: CCAC Partner State Ministers Endorse Green Freight Call to Action at COP19 in Warsaw, Poland

The Green Freight Call to Action  was introduced and endorsed by dozens of ministers at the CCAC High Level Assembly on November 21, 2013. The Call to Action serves as a high-level statement of commitments aiming to unify countries and companies around the world with a strategy for reducing energy usage and black carbon emissions from heavy-duty freight.

The Green Freight initiative is currently working on an Action Plan for implementation in collaboration with CCAC Partner countries and international shippers and carriers.

Oct 2013: Regulatory Exchange and Support of Efforts to Adopt World-Class Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emission Standards (NOM 044) in Mexico

ICCT is supporting the government of Mexico and its environmental regulatory agency SEMARNAT by supplying key technical information underlying the regulation.  ICCT has provided emissions inventory estimates to calculate the expected benefits from the proposed emission standards, and then used these emissions benefits to estimate projected public health benefits in 2030 based on ICCT’s Roadmap Health Model.

In October 2013 ICCT conducted a four-day training course with the key technical staff from SEMARNAT, and in December it held a one-day training for ten different agencies and partners. Discussions focused on methodologies and input data for establishing emissions inventories and cost projections for the rulemaking.  Additionally, there were a number of Mexico-specific issues raised, such as concerns about used vehicles, high altitude, and availability of low sulfur fuels.

Future Actions

Global Overview of Fuel and Vehicle Markets at the Country and Sub-regional Level

UNEP and ICCT are developing global fuel market and refinery baseline surveys to support a global sulfur strategy.

Development and Implementation of a Global Green Freight Action Plan

A Green Freight outreach and webinar series will continue targeting stakeholders and key industry players in Asia to help identify champions in Green Freight.

Model Highlighting the Potential Health and Climate Benefits of China VI Policies

A customized model for China that evaluates the costs and benefits of various vehicle emissions and fuel-quality policies is being written into a formal report by the ICCT. The model evaluates the costs and benefits of various vehicle emissions and fuel quality policies, showing that the overall benefits (health + climate) of stringent standards outweigh the costs by a factor of at least 7 to 1.

Report on International Best Practices for Development of a Clean Ports Program

UNEP is partnering with Gadjah Mada University Center for Transportation and Logistics Studies (known as “Pustral”) to oversee the Jakarta Ports project. Pustral is part of a team of six Indonesian universities that have conducted a comprehensive study on Indonesia maritime transport sector reform, where one of the key focus areas is port management. The study, entitled International Best Practices Sustainable and Clean Port Program, highlights the role of air quality improvement as part of a sustainable and clean port (SCP) program as well as the benefits of adopting SCP programs, with examples provided of air quality programs at leading global ports in the United States of America, Australia, South Africa, the Netherlands and Singapore. The study also provides recommendations on how to initiate and pilot the CCAC Tanjung Priok Port project to address PM/BC at Tanjung Priok.

National Workshops Held in East Africa to Implement EAC 50 ppm Decision

On 10 May 2014 Tanzania held the first of two national seminars on the benefits of low sulfur fuels. Tanzania has already passed low sulfur standards, although the fuel sector has a waiver to import 500 ppm until the end of 2014. Fuel distributors have until the end of 2014 to meet the new 50 ppm EAC standard. Corresponding light duty and heavy-duty vehicle standards were discussed in order to take advantage of cleaner fuel availability from 2015. Following the meeting, national media announced Tanzania’s transition to low sulfur fuels starting January 2015.

A low sulfur meeting for Kenya was held on 4 June 2014, hosted by the Petroleum Institute of East Africa to discuss low sulfur adoption and implementation in the country from 2015.

Who is involved?

Learn about Lead Partners, Partners and Actors working together to reduce black carbon emissions from Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles and Engines.