Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 07, 2013 Traffic Jam in 23 de Maio Avenue, downtown Sao Paulo

A report by think tank, the Grattan Institute, has called for a ban on highly polluting diesel trucks that are more than 20 years old should be considered for heavily populated urban areas particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

The report published by the independent think tank says that trucks more than 20 years old should be banned from Sydney and Melbourne, under a proposal that calls for moves to slash toxic emissions and spur the uptake of electric vehicles in our cities.

The Grattan Institute says exhaust pipe pollutants from trucks kill more than 400 people annually and contribute to illnesses including lung cancer, strokes and asthma.

The Grattan’s transport and cities program director, Marion Terrell, has called for faster action to limit the harm that older trucks are causing to the health of city residents and of the environment.

Marion Terrell, says the introduction of low emission zones should be set up in Sydney and Melbourne within the next three years, a move that would emulate cities overseas, such as London, Barcelona and Madrid.

This would men that these  ‘‘ low emission-zones’  would see diesel trucks more than two decades old banned from certain ares.

The Grattan highlights data showing that about 20 per cent of the heavy vehicle fleet in both Sydney and Melbourne  were manufactured before 2003.

“Low-emission zones are a big deal and a very well accepted policy overseas, and it shouldn’t be seen as radical,’’  said Marion Terrill.

“European cities including London, Barcelona and Madrid have more than 250 low emission zones, and in Asia, similar zones have been introduced in Tokyo and Beijing,” she added.

The Grattan report indicates that about 14 per cent of the country’s truck fleet was built before 1996, and emits 60 times the particulate matter of a new heavy vehicle, and eight times the poisonous nitrogen oxides.

The Institute recommends offering financial support to help the owners of old trucks switch to cleaner trucks.

In a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, NSW Greens transport spokeswoman Abigail Boyd said has been quote saying that  the party favour some sort of support to enable small fleets and individual operators to move out of their older trucks.

‘‘ Any ban must come with a support package for those individual truck owners who would otherwise suffer hardship ,’’ Boyd told the SMH.

NSW Labor roads spokesman John Graham has also said that if his party wins government in next year’s state election he wants to encourage jobs in businesses that convert large trucks to electric vehicles.

‘‘ We know that old diesel trucks have a huge impact on our state’s air quality. This is an issue we can’t avoid,’’ Graham said.

The Grattan report also highlights how far  Australia’s pollution standards for trucks are behind the rest of the world.

T&B News believes that the new Federal Government has an opportunity to make a strong leadership statement by formulating and introducing an incentive scheme to help small operators to get out of old trucks and into cleaner and safer newer vehicles, a move that we feel is long overrdue.

Euro 6 for heavy vehicles was brought in in Europe in December 2012, and ten years on Australia is yet to mandate the standard, which is set to be updated to Euro 7  by the EU in 2025, around the time we move to Euro 6, putting us more than a decade behind major global markets.

The Australian Trucking Association has urged the federal government to mandate Euro VI standards, which  reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 80 per cent and halve particulate matter for new truck models from early 2024 and for new all trucks the following year.