Reducing Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Emissions in Italy

Home Research Paper Reducing Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Emissions in Italy
Reducing Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Emissions in Italy

Motor vehicle and motorcycle emissions are the effluent gasses that are emitted from the exhaust pipe as a resultant waste from the combustion of diesel or gasoline in an internal combustion engine (Caiazzo et al. 200). Such static machines as generators, compressors, and incinerators among others also produce emissions. The discharge that disperses towards the direction of wind forms exhaust plume in a place where many engines are producing the emissions. These vehicles contribute to air pollution as well as smog formation in cities. The emissions are harmful as they lead to the accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere as well as poison the breathing air, thereby causing health complications to people and animals. The tailpipe gasses contain many components that include nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and soot among others. In Italy, road transport is detrimental to the environment as it is a leading contributor to many pollutants, especially nitrogen oxide (Romano et al. 26); thus, precautions to reverse the trend are inevitable. This essay aims at examining the ways in which Italy can reduce emissions in the transport sector as well as possible challenges that may hinder the efforts.

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Possible Ways of Reducing Emissions in the Italian Transport Sector

Increased Research and Investment in New Automobile Technology. The Italian government can increase funding for research into the automobile industry to enhance the adoption and the use of clean fuel as well as identify more new ones. Examples of the fuels that can lower emissions are liquefied petroleum gas, natural gas, and solar and electric power among others. For instance, pure electric cars draw propulsion from electric motors powered by batteries, and they emit 0g co2/km (European Environmental Agency 16). The zero emission from such cars is a benefit that makes the option feasible and reliable. Between 2000 and 2013, Fiat registered a decrease in emissions at a rate of 26% (European Environmental Agency 20). The strategy used was engine downsizing or shifting to smaller and lighter cars to lower fuel consumption as well as emissions, as the smallest car has a mass of 1145 kilograms (European Environmental Agency 20). The above results depict that the downsizing strategy adopted by Fiat is remarkable; thus, it proves to be useful. A report conducted in Europe between 2004 and 2013 revealed that a reduction in the mass of vehicles had a correlated decrease in fuel consumption as well as emissions (European Environmental Agency 15). The Italian government should, therefore, take a leaf out of their book and sensitize local car manufacturers as well as importers of vehicles to increase the production of fuel efficient vehicles.

Adoption of biofuel is another alternative to the traditional fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline. The biofuels are combustible fuels that do not necessitate significant changes in the traditional internal combustion engines and serve as a solution to the problem of emissions (Price Waterhouse Coopers 43). The fuels are made of biological material, as opposed to the inorganic components of traditional fuel. The raw materials may include corn, sugar cane, and rapeseed among others. Examples of biofuels are ethanol, biogas, vegetable oil, biodiesel that are made from crops. In fact, rapeseed is a standard raw material for ethanol in Europe (Price Waterhouse Coopers 43); thus, Italy can take advantage of the availability of this crop. Apart from the benefit of lowered emissions, biofuels also recycle atmospheric carbon dioxide unlike fossil fuels (Price Waterhouse Coopers 43). By 2006, the European Union had an output of 49 million tons of biodiesel, thereby making it the biggest producer in the world (Price Waterhouse Coopers 43). Biodiesel either substitutes or blend with the traditional diesel; thus, the motorists have an option of replacing the traditional diesel or mix it (Price Waterhouse Coopers 45). Bioethanol also replaces or blends with petrol, and it has a market share of 20% in the European Union (Price Waterhouse Coopers 45), thereby making it hold the second position in the biofuels sales. In Germany, 1900 stations are selling pure biodiesel/b 100 (Price Waterhouse Coopers 48). The above information shows that biofuels are gaining popularity in Europe; thus, Italy has the advantage at its doorsteps. The government can, therefore, urge the car manufacturers to make modifications in the engines to enhance the usage of biofuels. Also, the government can invest in the production of clean fuel as well as encourage investors to subsidize it so as to create a vast supply for motorists in the market.

The Italian government can also promote and fund the improvements of the functions of the motor vehicle and motorcycle engines to increase their efficiency, thereby contributing to low fuel needs and emissions. For instance, an ordinary car loses 62% of power, thereby necessitating improvements (Price Waterhouse Coopers 51). The innovation to increase the performance of the engines may take time as technology grows. However, even though, it is not possible to salvage all the lost power since improvements lead to greater energy retention, thereby lowering fuel consumption. In diesel engines, for instance, the variable geometry turbocharger is a commendable improvement that reduces fuel consumption (Price Waterhouse Coopers 51). Also, the enhancement of combustion control is another option, and this entails the induction of force through turbo or supercharging to lower the power loss (Price Waterhouse Coopers 51). Another potential improvement is cylinder deactivation that is common in the United States (Price Waterhouse Coopers 53). The need for deactivation results from the fact that when the engine is under partial load, it does not need the piston displacement; thus, it is possible to deactivate the unwanted cylinder by closing the intake and exhaust valves (Price Waterhouse Coopers 53) to lower fuel consumption. Italy can, therefore, adopt such measures to reduce fuel consumption that will lead to lower emissions. 

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Hydrogen is another potential clean fuel that can solve the menace of high levels of emissions; thus, the Italian government can consider promoting its usage. The use of hydrogen fuel leads to the operation of quiet engines, and water is the only emission (Price Waterhouse Coopers 62). The hydrogen-driven engines are highly efficient, and they have no side effects such as vibrations. However, it may take many years to have the hydrogen-driven engines on the road (Price Waterhouse Coopers 62). One of the reasons for the occurrence of problems is that hydrogen requires multiple transport and storage systems as it is a highly volatile gas at room temperature; thus, it requires compression or cooling to a liquid state (Price Waterhouse Coopers 63). However, the greatest burden is the construction of the infrastructure for producing, storing, and transporting hydrogen; however, once the system is in place, the costs will be small. Therefore, the government of Italy can adopt hydrogen, as a clean source to lower the emissions from the transport sector. 

Another option to reduce fuel usage and car emissions is recovery of the brake loss. Upon the application of brakes, a speeding car loses power when struggling to come to a halt or lower the speed, and this concept is called inertia (Price Waterhouse Coopers 74). This power, however, can be transformed into kinetic energy to help to propel the engine (Price Waterhouse Coopers 74). Regarding the above fact, there is the need to develop a regenerating brake system to help lower the power loss. When such power is recovered, it reduces the consumption of fuel, thereby cutting the emissions. The Italian government can, therefore, encourage or make it mandatory for the car manufacturers to install the feature in the cars. 

Incentives to Manufacturers. The Italian government can encourage the car and motorcycle manufacturers to invest in the production of engines that emit tiny amounts of particulates such as soot as well as exhaust gasses. Owing to the fact that the companies may have to bear an extra cost of improving the engines or procuring the necessary technology, the government should consider rewarding them with benefits such as reduced sales tax, lowered import tax for the materials required to improve the engines or subsidies to avoid increasing the manufacturing costs. The strategy of sensitizing the car manufacturers to produce clean automobiles is feasible, as the firms cooperate and try to observe their social responsibility towards the environment. For instance, in Europe, some companies have responded positively to such initiatives of manufacturing cars with low levels of emission. The examples are Peugeot, Renault, Fiat, Toyota Motor Europe, and Citroen among others whose cars emit 120 g co2/km (European Environmental Agency 20). Research also shows that in the European Union, 55 out of 84 vehicle manufacturers met the level of emissions set by the union (European Environmental Agency 23). The above data proves that if Italy takes such initiatives at the national level, the manufacturers can comply with them; hence, this will be a milestone in the battle towards lower emissions.

Penalizing Car Manufacturers for High Emissions. The Italian government can set the maximum allowable levels of effluents by vehicles and encourage the car manufacturers to produce cars whose emissions are below the set standard. As a way of compelling the firms to respect the directive, the government can impose fines on them if they do not meet the required standards. The penalty can be in the form of excess emission premium, as it happens in the European Union (European Environmental Agency 29). The formula for calculating the penalty can be excess emission/distance to the target multiplied by the vehicles a company manufactures in a year and the amount of money set for a given volume of excess exhaust waste. Thus, such strategy forces the car manufacturers to comply with the set standards to avoid losses through penalties. The Italian government can, therefore, adopt and implement the strategy at the national level to discourage the car firms from an irresponsible behavior of producing cars that pollute the air.

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The Use of Diplomacy. Other than penalties and subsidies, the Italian government can negotiate with car manufacturers to have them voluntarily accept the idea of reducing emissions. Such action provides a basic strategy as it convinces and promotes goodwill and social responsibility towards the environment, without expecting any reward because the manufacturer is aware that the environment is beneficial. The move will encourage manufacturers to observe the balance between financial gains and social responsibility towards the community and the environment. There has been a similar attempt in Germany as the government sought to communicate with the car firms to make them accept their role of protecting the environment. In 1978, the German automobile industry voluntarily agreed to reduce fuel consumption by 15% through the manufacture of fuel efficient vehicles (Price Waterhouse Coopers 32). The firms also agreed to improve fuel efficiency by 25% in 2005, and both agreements were favorable (Price Waterhouse Coopers 32); there are similar deals in Japan and Korea as well as the European Union. In such agreements, the actualization of the target is dependent on technological development that changes the different characteristics of cars to lower the fuel consumption; thus, the agreement is largely dependent on the free will of the manufacturers. Regarding the above information, Italy can adopt the same measure to convince the automobile industry to participate in the battle to save the environment from air pollutants. 

Formulating and Implementing Anti-Pollution Laws. In addition to the incentives and penalties, the government can formulate laws to protect the environment, and the directive may compel the manufacturers and assemblers to install some additional features in the new cars. The law may also require motorists to have some features fixed in their old cars to meet specific environmental requirements. For instance, in the United States, there is the clean air act amendment of 1990 that set standards regarding emissions (Price Waterhouse Coopers 36). Also, the California low emission vehicle legislation that applies to diesel and gasoline vehicles requires vehicles to have emission control technology such as nitrogen oxide reducing catalysts and particulates filters among others. Such laws significantly contribute to the reduction of emissions, thereby protecting the environment from pollutants. Regarding the above examples, Italy can borrow such rules and compel motorists and manufacturers to have such features installed in vehicles to reduce emission that implies the creation of environmental rules at the national level. 

Encouraging Bicycle and Public means of Transport. Bikes offers cheaper and a clean form of transport that also have benefits for the riders. The bikes help to reduce the number of cars on roads as well as traffic congestion in which cars waste fuel on idling mode, thereby increasing pollution. Also, the use of public transport such as buses and railways is also another viable option as it promotes the movement of a vast number of people in fewer vehicles on the road and reduces the level of emissions. In Netherlands, people of all ages use a bicycle as their form of transport for short journeys, and they cycle for an average of five kilometers a day, which totals an average of 900 kilometers per year per person (Statistics Netherlands 9). Italy can, therefore, adopt the strategy of Netherlands and invest in public transport as well as paths for bicycles to encourage their usage to complement private car transport or replace it when possible. 

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Problems Italy Might Face in Curbing Air Pollution

The Customer’s Mindset. The path to success in propagating the environmental idea or concern in the automobile industry begins with the promotion of the acceptance of the environmentally friendly cars in the market to create demand for the same (Price Waterhouse Coopers 78). Customers are always skeptical or reluctant to buy new products; thus, they may not readily accept modified and eco-friendly cars due to the fear of poor performance or short lifespan. The above issues imply that despite the government pressure on manufacturers to switch to the production of eco-friendly vehicles, the clients may not readily accept the product so that there may be weak demand in the market, thereby killing or frustrating the dream of having clean cars. The Italian government, therefore, will face this challenge; thus, it might need to sensitize the masses and assure them that the new cars will perform the same as the traditional cars or even better. 

The Cost Implication. Inventions and innovations are accompanied by associated costs that may affect the government, manufacturers, and even the customers. For instance, to implement the carbon dioxide technology in the car industry, the manufacturers will have to change the process and procure new materials while hiring new staff or training the existing ones (Price Waterhouse Coopers 80). Also, the government will bear the cost of investing in the required technology through training the manufacturers as well as building the necessary infrastructure for the new fuel alternatives such as hydrogen that need a complicated storage and transport system (Price Waterhouse Coopers 63). If the government considers promoting alternative forms of transportation such as a bicycle, there will be high costs of redesigning the infrastructure to create bike paths. For instance, in Netherlands where a bike is a primary form of transport, there are over 35,000 kilometers of bike lanes (Statistics Netherlands 73). On the other hand, the customers will also bear the cost passed incurred through increased prices for new cars. Also, if the government requires a modification of vehicles already on the road, their owners may have to incur the associated costs of having their vehicles modified to meet the government requirements. The Italian state may, therefore, have to offer incentives or subsidize car manufacturing to address the increased costs of eco-friendly vehicles. 

Loss of Business. The oil industry is a major sector in the economies of different countries as oil is a product widely used in all countries, and the suppliers sell it at the local as well as international level. The implementation of the environmentally friendly technology in the automotive industry, therefore, means that oil demand and usage will reduce. The implication, thus, will be that the oil sector will start losing business and may retrench the workers. Also, some businesses such as gas stations, transporters, and oil miners will have to close due to lack of business. The government will, therefore, have to bear in mind that the implementation of a clean form of transport has its problems that require close attention.

Potential Sabotage. No business is willing to lose the market for its products or services; thus, the entrepreneurs may try to use all means they can to safeguard their commercial interests. Regarding this issue, the oil sector right from mining, refining, wholesaling and retailers may have to gather to disapprove of the idea of clean automobile technology as it will negatively affect their business. The companies may, therefore, collude with car manufacturers as well as influence the political leadership to derail the dream of converting the conventional engines to the eco-friendly engines that use less or no oil fuel. The Italian government will, thereafter, face such problem when implementing the clean technology so that the administration must be prepared for such issues.

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Conclusion

Motor vehicle and motorcycle emissions are the effluents emitted from the tailpipe of the engines, and they pollute the air by discharging soot and gasses into the atmosphere. There are some ways in which Italy can alleviate the problem. Firstly, it is necessary to devise modern engine technology that allows the driver to use solar and electric power, biofuels and hydrogen among others. Improvement in engines to reduce the loss of authority and adoption of a regenerative braking system are also viable options. Secondly, the administration can also give incentives to car manufacturers to encourage them to produce clean vehicles. Thirdly, laws regarding environmental pollution are also a possible method. Fourthly, setting an excess emission charge will discourage the motor industries from building cars with high levels of waste. Fourthly, the government can engage the automobile industries in diplomatic negotiations to make them accept social responsibility towards the environment. Lastly, the government can reduce private cars on the road by investing in public transport and encouraging people to use it as well as the bicycle carrier. There are considerable potential problems the government will face. The first issue is customers’ attitude as they may not easily accept the modified cars. The second problem is the cost implication that the vehicle manufacturers, consumers, and the government will face. Thirdly, the oil sector will lose business and may start retrenching workers. Lastly, the government may face sabotage from the oil industry as the entrepreneurs may use all means to safeguard their business. Regarding the above information, Italy has some ways to reduce pollution in the transport sector, but there are also challenges. The leaders, therefore, need to carefully plan the way to address the issue as well as handle the consequences.

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