Reducing petrol emissions

Motor vehicle emissions are a main contributor to two air pollution problems know as photochemical smog (commonly referred to as ozone) and, to a lesser extent, fine particles.

Photochemical smog is a whitish haze formed from the action of sunlight on chemical compounds. When measuring photochemical smog (as ozone), there are two components that are measured, oxides of nitrogen, which are know as NOx, and volatile organic compounds, which are called VOCs. Motor vehicle emissions contribute to 61% of the photochemical smog air pollution problem.

Composed of airborne particles, particle pollution is evident as the brown haze sometimes seen in the cooler months of the year. While diesel vehicles make up only 8 per cent of the vehicles on our roads, they contribute to 60 per cent of the particle pollution from road transport.

As a measure to improve vehicle emissions, Australia has improved the emissions performance of new vehicles by promoting the adoption of tougher fuel and emission standards. Since the early 1970’s, these standards have progressively tightened. The current standards reflect Australia's commitment to align with the vehicle standards developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

How can I help to reduce my vehicle emissions?

With the amount of vehicles on our roads increasing every year, vehicle emissions is a serious issue. It’s important that we all do our bit to work together to improve vehicle emissions.

The tabs on the left of the screen provide you with information on ways you can help to improve and reduce the impact that passenger and diesel vehicles have on our air quality. Whether you walk, take public transport, or car pool to work with some friends, by thinking about greener ways to travel, together we can improve the impact that vehicle emissions have on air quality in NSW.

Buy a cleaner car

‘Cleaner’ cars cost less to run.

The Australian Government’s Green Vehicle Guide helps you by rating vehicles (manufactured from 2004) based on greenhouse and air pollution emissions. This guide will provide you with information to help you chose a vehicle that best suits your needs while being good for the environment too.

For more information, see Buying a green vehicle.

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DriveGreen calculator

Roads and Maritime Services has developed a DriveGreen calculator that helps you to calculate the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted from your car each year. It is based on the information you provide and is a useful guide for deciding how many carbon offsets you should purchase.

The DriveGreen calculator was developed as part of an initiative of the NSW Government and Roads and Maritime Services to encourage NSW drivers to counteract their carbon emissions through the purchase of a wide range of carbon offsets.

Purchase carbon offsets

By purchasing carbon offsets, you can offset the greenhouse emissions caused by your vehicle and by doing so you will be making an investment in a project or activity that reduces greenhouse gas emissions (which removes carbon from the atmosphere). Emission reduction projects aim to prevent or remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) generated through carbon producing activities for example industrial process, transportation and electricity production.

If you would like further information about purchasing carbon offsets, please visit the DriveGreen website.

Have your vehicle’s emissions checked for free

Roads and Maritime offers free emissions testing for petrol and LPG vehicles so you can check the emissions performance of your vehicle. Properly maintained vehicles have emissions that are close to the new vehicle standard. See Tips for maintaining your vehicle for more information.

High emissions may indicate a problem that a tune-up or repairs could fix, and as a result save you money on petrol.

Roads and Maritime has laboratory grade emissions testing equipment (accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities) at Botany and Penrith registries. If you would like to get your vehicle tested, please call the Contact Centre on 1300 364 847 for a booking. Testing normally takes 20 to 30 minutes.

These facilities are also used to test modified vehicles, smoky vehicles and LPG vehicles. Since the introduction of this testing in 1998, in excess of 15,760 tests have been completed.

The Second National In-Service Emissions Study (NISE 2)

Roads and Maritime Services (as the RTA) was commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts in June 2007 to oversee the main phase of NISE 2. The purpose of NISE 2 was to source and test a sample of light duty petrol vehicles representative of those on Australian roads. Emissions tests were focussed on vehicles manufactured from 1994 to 2007 and measured in particular, emissions of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), nitrous oxides (NOx) as well as particulates.

NISE 2 provides an accurate measurement of aggregate emissions and fuel consumption performance of the test vehicles, as well as providing a comparison between in-service emission levels of vehicles and the emission standards that they were designed to comply with when new. This project provides a better understanding of the effect of tougher emission standards and provides data to enable more accurate modelling of the likely effect of various vehicle emission management strategies.

Further information about the NISE2 study is available on the Commonwealth Department of the Environment website.

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