Kalantari Says DoE Lacks Clout to Take On Polluting Carmakers
EghtesadOnline: The pattern of procrastination by automakers and the influence of their strong lobbies notwithstanding, the Department of Environment insists on its stance that car companies must start making advanced engines compliant with Euro 5 emissions standards, the DoE head said.
“We are resolute in not wanting to issue licenses for manufacturing poor quality vehicles with Euro 4 emissions standards. However, the DoE does not have the liberty to proceed in its own way because the country is under US sanctions and tough decisions can adversely affect the job market,” Isa Kalantari was quoted as saying by ISNA.
It is indeed regrettable, Kalantari said, that DoE choices are “not between good and the bad but between bad and worse.” In a rare admission he admitted that taking on automakers is difficult not only due to their strong connections but also because of the US restrictions that have curtailed access to materials and modern technology for the huge but appallingly dysfunctional auto sector.
Referring to a letter sent by Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, he said the letter implied that the DoE is obliged to issue permits for the production of engines with Euro 4 emission standards as auto factories cannot import advanced technology to upgrade and improve car engines.
“If the domestic car industry is really supposed to uphold international norms, all production lines should be shut in which case at least 1.5 million jobs will be lost,” the top environmental official, who also is a vice president, was quoted as saying.
Giving another example, he said power plants had been ordered to use natural gas instead of environmentally-damaging liquid fuels (diesel and mazut), which was very effective in curbing air pollution.
However, after a while the mazut inventories got bigger because refiners were unable to export the fuel (due to the tough US sanctions). Surplus mazut should be either used in producing power or be dumped in deserts.
“Gradually, refineries faced challenges as they had to get rid of the fuel or shutdown the refinery,” and (as usual) DoE was forced to issue permits to let power stations use mazut and the outcome is high air pollution between November 2019 and January 2020.
Schools were closed in many cities for several days and hospitals were full with patients suffering from respiratory ailments.
“The country is trapped in a vicious cycle that is very difficult to exit.”
Nonetheless, he reiterated that studies conducted by the DoE on gasoline and diesel quality indicates both fuels sold in the country contain acceptable level of chemicals, especially sulphur.
“Approximately $10 billion has been invested to upgrade refineries over the last decade to reduce sulphur levels in gasoline from 120 parts per million (PPM) to less than 50 PPM.”
The average sulfur content in diesel is estimated at around 70 PPM. Five years ago it was 900 PPM.
Close to 85 million liters of diesel and 100 million liters of gasoline are produced in Iran daily, 75% of which complies with Euro 4 emission standards.
Sulfur is a natural component in crude oil that is present in gasoline and diesel unless removed. Reducing sulfur content in gasoline enables advanced emission controls and reduces air pollution.
European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in EU member states. The emission standards are defined in a series of European Union directives staging the progressive introduction of increasingly stringent standards.
Caption: An estimated 100 million liters of gasoline is produced daily in Iran, 75% of which complies with Euro 4 emissions standards.