Mexico Should Adopt Overdue Heavy-Duty Vehicle Emissions Standards

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2016) – Leading U.S. and Mexico clean air and health advocates today urged the Mexican government to stand up to polluters and finalize long-delayed heavy-duty vehicle emissions standards, critically needed to address the country’s harmful air pollution, meet its Paris climate pledge and align with emissions limits already in place in the U.S. and Canada.

The pending standard—the first tightening of emissions limits since 2006—could cut diesel emissions 90 percent in harmful particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides, help avoid more than 55,000 premature deaths, and deliver more than $120 billion in net benefits.

Unfortunately, although the standard— called NOM-044—was written with input from industry, civil society and academics, Mexico's Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat (SEMARNAT) is reportedly considering weakening it due to pressure from a segment of the industry.

Speaking from Mexico City today, the advocates held a telephone-based press conference to call on the Mexican government to ignore that pro-polluter pressure. Instead, they said, the government should swiftly adopt the tougher heavy-duty truck and bus emissions standard—and they noted that the recent four-day emergency air pollution alert in Mexico City stands as clear evidence for the need to curb dangerous emissions now.   

“With a modern fleet Mexico could drastically reduce emissions of short-lived pollutants, which not only have harmful health effects, but also contribute to global warming,“ said Amanda Maxwell, Latin America advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council, based in New York. “In fact, the reduction of emissions in the transport sector is a key pillar of Mexico’s international commitment to combat climate change, in which this country is committed to unconditionally—that is, without international aid—reduce greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions 25 percent by 2030. The approval of NOM-044 and aligning its standards with the rest of North America is one of the most important measures to meet the above goal.”

Gisselle García, Public Policy Analyst, Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental in Mexico City, said: “The environmental problems suffered by Mexico City in recent days, like other cities in the country, are due, among other causes, to the lag of health standards that are below those recommended by the World Health Organization limits (WHO). They also stem from the failure of the Mexican government to improve and adapt to the needs of the global market standards governing the type of technology for vehicles, so that they may already be available in the Mexican market."

Garcia added, “In addition to the measures that governments should implement locally to reduce pollution, there is also a great responsibility for the federal government, through SEMARNAT, as they are empowered to issue standards that are the reference for the entire country concerning maximum permissible limits of contaminants in heavy vehicles. The government should force the industry to modernize its fleet of buses and include the latest technology to reduce pollutants, which is already available on the market at competitive prices.”

Dan Greenbaum, President of the Health Effects Institute in Boston, said: “Older diesel engines are a significant health risk, emitting large amounts of fine particles (PM2.5) which cause premature death from heart and lung disease, asthma attacks, and many other effects. Diesel has also been found by the World Health Organization to cause lung cancer, but in our extensive testing of the new technology diesel engine and fuels required by NOM 044, the risks of death and cancer are dramatically reduced.”

Kate Blumberg, Senior Fellow, International Council for Clean Transportation in Washington, D.C. addressed a recent ICCT report showing that the pending standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses would deliver substantial health, economy and climate benefits. Not only that, the standards would put Mexico on par with tough U.S. and Canada heavy-duty vehicle standards, and are part of its climate pledge for the successful climate agreement reached by more than 190 countries in Paris in December, she said.

“To the increasingly competitive costs of these technologies, we can add the great benefits that its [NOM-044] implementation would bring to a country in terms of reducing pollution levels and avoided expenses from hospital and care related to poor air quality diseases,” Blumberg said. “Hence, Mexico should not lose more time to harmonize their standards with world-class standards elsewhere.”

For more on the ICCT report, go here:

For a blog by Maxwell covering more details about the pending Mexico heavy-duty vehicle standard, go here:


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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