August 25, 2003
In accordance with the fourth, fifth, and seventh reports prepared under the title of Future Policy for Motor Vehicle Exhaust Emissions Reduction by the Central Environment Council, the Ministry of the Environment has partially amended the Maximum Permissible Limits for the Quality of Motor Vehicle Fuel and for the Quantity of Substances in Motor Vehicle Fuel (Environment Agency Notification No.64, 1995) to enforce tighter emissions controls for motor vehicles. The amendment was promulgated on August 25, 2003.
With the tightening of motor vehicle emission control in recent years, fuel quality has come to play an increasingly important role in measures to reduce exhaust emissions from motor vehicles. This amendment of the permissible limit for motor vehicle fuels aims to help reduce emissions by properly combining the improvement of fuel quality with emission-control technology for motor vehicles.
In its fourth report of November 2000, the Central Environment Council pointed out the need to reduce sulfur content in diesel fuel. This reduction is necessary in order to maintain the performance of diesel particulate filters (DPF) and other exhaust gas after treatment equipment that are to be adopted following the implementation of stricter controls based on the new long-term emission reduction targets for diesel-powered motor vehicles. The report noted the need for reducing sulfur content in diesel fuel to 0.005 mass percent (50 ppm) before the attainment of the long-term targets.
The fifth report of April 2002 noted the need to reduce the sulfur content in gasoline to 0.005 mass percent (50 ppm) before the attainment of the new long-term targets, in order to utilize the efficacy of emission-control technology without compromising the efficacy of technology for improving fuel efficiency.
Meanwhile, ethanol, a gasoline additive refined from biomass, has captured attention because of its potential to curb global warming. The seventh report of July 2003 stated it would be appropriate to add oxygenated compounds to the list of regulatory items for gasoline quality, in order to prevent deterioration of automobile exhaust gas.
<Summary of the Amendment>
In keeping with the enforcement of regulations based on the new long-term emission reduction targets for diesel-powered vehicles, which is slated for 2005, the permissible limit for sulfur content in diesel fuel will be lowered from 0.05 mass percent (500 ppm) to 0.005 mass percent (50 ppm) and that of sulfur content in gasoline from 0.01 mass percent (100 ppm) to 0.005 mass percent (50 ppm). It will take effect on December 31, 2004.
The permissible limit for oxygenated compounds in gasoline is established at 1.3 mass percent or less and it will take effect on August 28, 2003.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry also plans to revise its ministerial ordinances in accordance with the Law on the Quality Control of Gasoline and Other Fuels.