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What Is CO2 and Why Does It Matter?

We live in a society which revolves around being as economical as possible. Although we do our best to make our homes as environmentally friendly, something we don't consider anywhere near as much with our vehicles. The emission ratings of a vehicle can often be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing, especially with Transit vans.

Although it isn't at the forefront of people's thoughts, the emission ratings of a vehicle can have a knock-on effect, not only on the cost of tax, but health as well. There are certain restrictions that the UK government has enforced in an attempt to make sure England improves its carbon emissions.

It's not that transport can be gotten rid of either, as it's important when it comes to economic growth. Transport has a big contribution to the functioning of societies, with it helping both people and goods being transport from all corners of the country.

So, what exactly is the problem?

It doesn't take much to realise that motor transport is one of the most popular ways of getting around. You simply have to look at the roads at peak time to see how many people use both cars and vans. The Transit van is one of the best innovations, allowing people to have an efficient form of transport that is suitable for both personal and commercial uses.

Because of motor transport being so prevalent in todays society, it is the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU, just after power generation. Around one fifth of total emissions is carbon dioxide.

Road transport is one of the few sectors where the emissions have risen over time. It's a lot harder to restrict, as the majority of people need to use vehicles a lot of the time, sometimes even seven days a week. There has only been one period of time where the emission levels lowered, back from 2008 to 2010. This is due to the economic slowdown.

Unfortunately, it's light duty vehicles (the majority of vans and cars), that are responsible for a significant part of emissions produced from transport. The levels are around 13.5 percent of all EU emissions of carbon dioxide. This is why a lot of vans are becoming more fuel efficient and introduce new technology that will also help fuel efficiency.

How is carbon dioxide produced?

A lot of people are under the belief that carbon dioxide is something that is man made, but that isn't true. This byproduct is the result of a material that is burnt, but already contains carbon. An example of these products are paper, coal, gasoline, wood and even meat.

It is also produced through life, such as when animals and humans breathe. We breathe in oxygen that is in the air, which is then distributed throughout our body through the bloodstream. Whilst this happens, the bloodstream collects any carbon dioxide and sends it out through the lungs.

Plants are the opposite to this, breathing in the carbon dioxide we produce and then exhaling oxygen. It's an ongoing process that has been happening since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, if too much carbon dioxide is produced, it can have poisonous effects on the plant.

How do you know the carbon dioxide emissions of a vehicle?

In simple terms, the carbon dioxide emissions of a vehicle are proportional to the amount of fuel that is consumed by the engine. A lot of time and money has been invested into van technology, trying their best to reduce bad air quality pollutants from the vehicle.

Even with all of the innovation that has gone into this technology, there hasn't been much in the way of reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, even though engines are working more efficiently than ever. More and more people are choosing lower emission vehicles, as they help to save money, work efficiently and have much less of an impact on the planet.

If you want to find out what carbon dioxide emissions your vehicle has, you can use this government website to find out.

So what measures are being introduced to lower carbon dioxide levels?

The EU has started to take action against the carbon dioxide levels that are produced by vans. Legislation has been passed where carbon emission targets are enforced on any new van that is sold from within Europe. This will be prevalent up to the year 2020.

Limit value curve

When an emission limit is set, it boils down to the mass of a vehicle through the use of a limit value curve. This curve is set in a way that a van will average 175 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre by 2017, and 147 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre.

This limit curve does mean that any vans that are on the heavier side are able to produce higher emissions than that of a lighter van, as long as it can preserve the overall fleet average. The only people that are regulated are manufacturers. They are able to create and release a van that emission levels above the limit value curve, as long as other vehicles balance it out underneath the curve.

Phasing in requirements

Before 2014, the carbon dioxide levels weren't fully enforceable. The average target of 175 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre has begun to be introduced between 2014 and 2017. This year, an average of 70% of every manufacturer's brand new vans must comply with the previous limit value curve, as a part of the legislation. Over the years, the proportion will rise.

  • 75% in 2015
  • 80% in 2016
  • 100% in 2017

The target in 2020 will be effective before 2020 with no delay at all.

The vehicles that are affected

This new legislation will affect light commercial vehicles. In a nutshell, this means that a vehicle that carries any goods that weigh up to 3.5 tonnes, and weigh less than 2610 kg when empty are considered as a light commercial vehicle.

Penalties for excess emissions

To deter people from producing excess emissions, penalties have been introduced. If an average carbon emissions that a manufacturer's fleet is more than the limit value in any year after 2014, the manufacturer will have to pay an excess emission premium when a van is actually registered.

If someone produces over one g/km, they have to pay just under £4. After the second g/km, they will have to pay just under £12. For the third g/km, just under £20. After this, it goes to £75 for every subsequent g/km. There are plans for this to rise even higher by 2019, so it's important that people ensure their vehicles are under the limit.

Economical innovations

When a lightweight vehicle is tested to see how much energy it produces, it doesn't cover every piece of energy that is used within the operation of the vehicle. This has become a problem, as it isn't always possible to see the carbon dioxide reducing effects that certain tech provides when being tested in certain circumstances. A manufacturer is able to be granted emission credits that are equivalent to the maximum emission savings of 7g/jm in a year.

This is only possible if the vehicle is equipped with economical technology that makes a significant impact in the reduction of carbon dioxide. They can't simply show the statistics either. An independent company will have to verify the data that the technology produces.

Super credits

The group that regulates vans are temporarily allowing manufacturers to earn additional incentives if they can produce a vehicle that has a very low emission rating. It has to be under 60g/km.

A single low emitting van will be counted as 3.5 vehicles in 2014. This reduces by 1.0 each year, until 2018 where it will be counted as one vehicle. The whole point of this process is to help manufacturers reduce their average emissions even more when it comes to releasing a new van.

Super credits can be claimed up to 25,000 vans between 2014 and 2017. The whole point of a short period of time is for van manufacturers to be genuinely interested in taking advantage of this limited time deal.

Pools working together

Manufacturers are able to group together and form a pool, working together to meet the set emissions targets. If manufacturers do form a pool, there are rules that they must follow under law. The specific information that they exchange with each other is limited to their average specific emissions of carbon dioxide, the emissions target they have been set and the overall number of vehicles that have been registered.

Small manufacturer targets

Any manufacturers that are responsible for less than 1000 new van registrations in a single year are exempt from having to meet any emission targets. If you are an independent manufacturer that creates less than 22,000 vans in a single year, you can propose your very own emission reduction target. It does have to be agreed on by the Commission, but you do have a lot more freedom to create a realistic target.

The Commision is the group you go to when it comes to anything official about the Carbon dioxide emissions that need discussing. They make all of the decisions, whether it be the targets to meet or how long they have to meet them.

Emission monitoring

The Commission has set out a selection of rules on data that needs to be collected when a manufacturer tests the carbon emissions of a brand new van. This data first had to be delivered from 2012 onwards, although it can be requested whenever the Commission wants it.

Long term targets

The EU is serious about meeting these goals, and is doesn't want it to be something that simply gets forgotten about after a period of time. When it comes to 2015, any of the current targets will be brought under review. If the results aren't satisfying enough, they can be changed, making the carbon emission target higher or lower.

If the results aren't satisfying, there is a chance that the target may be changed from 2020 to 2025. The carbon dioxide rating also has to be worked out from how much energy suppliers are producing in conjunction with vehicle manufacturing.

Transit vans, emission targets and you

Transit vans are definitely one of most innovative vehicles ever made. They have some of the latest technologies that other vans try their best to replicate. Ford has been trying its best to improve its emission ratings so that its range becomes more economical. Before you purchase a Transit van, do research into the van and how efficient it is, as it can affect the amount of money you pay in the long run.

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