Over the last three decades air pollution has been a major challenge for the city of Santiago, Chile. A major source of air pollution are the city’s buses which emit fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) into the atmosphere.
Since the early 1990s the adoption of several actions, including cleaner fuels and emissions standards for new vehicles have produced a continuous improvement in the annual average PM2.5 levels measured in Santiago's air. The 2012 annual average PM2.5 levels were 65% lower.
Centro Mario Molina, Chile has worked with the government on designing and implementing policies to reduce pollution since 2012. Its first project was Chile’s adoption of a 15 parts-per-million (PPM) sulphur standard in diesel and petrol fuels.
In early 2016 Chile’s Ministry of Environment announced mandatory standards (EURO VI) for every new bus purchased and operating in the Transantiago public transport system as of January 2019. This made Santiago the first city to commit to soot-free technology for PM2.5 and NOx emission reductions. Centro Mario Molina Chile is helping implement the new standard.
Chile’s Ministry of Environment estimates that the new standard will reduce NOx and PM2.5 emissions by 67%, by 2025 compared to business-as-usual.
Santiago has now become the testing laboratory for the development of Latin American low-emission buses and manufacturers, including Mercedes Benz and Volvo, are responding with technology offers.
Santiago's commitment is a strong signal to bus manufacturers both regionally and internationally that there is growing demand for cleaner bus technology in cities for better air quality and emission reductions.