The adverse environmental effects of road transport are well recognised and include: air pollution, global warming, noise and the depletion of non-renewable energy resources. The key instrument used by EU legislation for the reduction of air pollution is emission standards, reinforced by the development of environmental planning and relevant administrative structures and policies. Most EU Member States have achieved significant progress in this field. However, the situation in Cyprus in 2002 called for urgent intervention to tackle traffic-related air pollution and fuel consumption. With, for instance, no emission standards and no periodic inspection of vehicles’ emissions, there was clearly a need for Cyprus to adapt its national legislation ahead of EU membership in 2004, and to boost its administrative capacity to meet EU standards.
The LIFE-TCY project sought to bring about a reduction of vehicle-related air pollution and fuel consumption through the establishment of a legislative framework in accordance with EU practices and relevant administrative instruments and structures. Specific objectives were to:
- set-up the legislation for a) emissions and fuel economy of new vehicles and b) emissions standards for in-use vehicles;
- establish best practices for environmental planning and elaboration of a series of measures to control vehicle emissions;
- introduce ‘best action’ proposals for the administration of catalysts of vehicles;
- promote public transport; and
- propose the establishment of the necessary administrative instruments and structures and the necessary links between ministries involved.
Objective 1: The project team drew up a number of new laws covering emission standards for newly registered vehicles, the periodic inspection of in-use vehicles and fuel quality specifications, which have subsequently been implemented by the Cypriot authorities. Measures included the establishment of a Single Vehicle Approval system; the modernisation of 117 Private Vehicle Technical Inspection Centres responsible for checking the new standards for private car road worthiness; the reduction of the sulphur content in gasoline; and the establishment of strict fuel quality standards, which also covered the phase-out of leaded petrol. Such legislation will have a positive impact on reducing road traffic emissions. For example, measures of road worthiness are estimated to save up to 2,000 tonnes of carbon oxide (CO), 650 tonnes of hydrocarbons and 170 tonnes of nitrogen oxide (NO) emissions per annum.
Objective 2: The new taxation system has accelerated the renewal of vehicles and reduced the number of high fuel consumption cars – with sales of imported second hand cars already halved. These reforms constitute a major project success since such large structural changes are usually very difficult to achieve. They are also estimated to save at least 17,000 tonnes of CO, 7,500 tonnes of hydrocarbons and 1,300 tonnes of NO emissions per annum.
Objective 3: Through the introduction of several laws on catalytic converters, the project aimed to bring the national legislation in line with a number of EC directives. In addition, the team studied the possibility of recycling catalytic converters. However, the conclusion was that this activity was not financially viable and therefore catalytic converters should be exported for recycling. (Today, many service stations – with an economic incentive with regard to the recovery of precious metals – are exporting them to the Netherlands.)
Objective 4: The proposals of the beneficiary for the renewal of the bus fleet and more bus lanes were also agreed on by the competent authorities. Although these have not yet been implemented, the beneficiary is optimistic that funding for the required major investments will be approved and that Cyprus will have an efficient bus service within the next five years.
Objective 5: The beneficiary analysed the existing administrative structure concerning road traffic emission in Cyprus and proposed a number of reforms, which have been approved by the relevant authorities. It was decided to form a separate unit within the Ministry of Communications and Works. This constitutes a significant institutional strengthening which is expected to lead to more efficient management of road traffic emission in Cyprus. In addition to these objectives, the team carried out various dissemination activities, including training sessions on the new legislation, and the creation of a project website, video and brochures. The LIFE project was highly innovative at a national level and very successful. Most of its results, in particular the legislation and policies developed in line with EU standards, are long-term measures. The realisation of the potential benefits and their sustainability is safeguarded by the administrative instruments and structures that have been put in place. Such structures also ensure the efficient implementation of legislation and enable progress to be monitored.