Germany calls for stronger EU motorbike rules

Study prepared for ministry shows motorcycles much dirtier, noisier, than cars

The German environment ministry has called on the EU to rapidly introduce tough motorcycle exhaust emissions legislation following publication of a study showing that motorbikes produce much higher levels of some types of emissions than cars.

According to ministry officials behind the study, its findings show there is an "urgent need for motorcycle emissions legislation to catch up" with the EU Auto/Oil laws agreed last year that set stricter car and lorry emissions standards to be achieved in 2000 and 2005. Motorbike numbers are increasing faster than any other type of vehicles and they are relatively dirtier, the report shows.

It concludes that the 3.2 million motorcycles on Germany's roads - more than in any other EU country - emit particularly high levels of hydrocarbons (HC) compared with other vehicles. On average, bikes produce 10% of transport HC emissions despite accounting for only 2.4% of total vehicle mileage in Germany. Motorcycles can account for up to one-fifth of HC emissions on sunny summer days, the study adds.

The report recommends that new emissions limits for motorbikes should be based on best available technology and should be much stricter than those currently in force in the EU. Speaking at the study's publication on Wednesday, German junior environment minister Gila Altmann said that regular emissions and noise testing should be also introduced, as well as measures to prevent tampering with exhaust systems to increase noise levels.

A ministry official said that efforts to find a consensus with Germany's motorcycle manufacturing industry and user groups - which dropped out of the study - would continue. He told ENDS Daily that Germany would not introduce new national emissions limits on motorcycles ahead of EU action.

New EU motorcycle emissions limits are being discussed within the European Commission but legislative proposals are some way off and look set to be too weak to please the German government. Head of transport at the German environment agency, Axel Friedrich told ENDS Daily that consultancy studies prepared for the Commission were "ridiculous". EU motorcycle emissions controls were now behind developing countries such as India and Taiwan, Dr Friedrich added.

Follow Up:
German environment ministry, tel: +49 30 285 500; German environment agency, tel: +49 30 89030.

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