Proposed Emission Standards

The story of emissions

Australians buy about 2 million petrol engines a year.  Half of these are in cars, which have had emissions standards since the 1970's.  The other half are sold completely without restriction.  That puts us behind the USA, Europe, Japan, Canada, India and China.

Emissions standards for non-road engines are in the pipeline and we are working with government to make this happen in a smooth and sensible way.

The recommendation is to move directly to the world’s toughest standard and mirror the USA EPA 2012 rules. There are some sound reasons for this:

  • We are fifteen years behind the leading market in starting emission standards and are well behind the world. We need to catch up. Its the right thing to do.
  • Because we are behind the world, half the products Australian buy today; already meet the world’s best standards.
  • The USA standard is the lead standard. Countries like Canada and Japan have already adopted this standard, Europe is moving toward harmonization of standards and China seems to be adopting the same approach.
  • Buying USA spec products will ensure Australians the best possible prices and the widest range of product choices. It will also help our local exporters. What emissions are we talking about?


The key pollutants are:

  • Hydrocarbons (HC) responsible for chemical smog and a myriad of health and environmental issues; (often seen as blue smoke)
  • Oxides of Nitrogen (NOX) a cause of a range of health problems, and the key cause of acid rain affecting crops and all plant life and;
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) that in high concentrations is deadly but at lower levels causes a wide range of health issues.


Non-compliant engines may be small, but their emissions levels are very high.

  • A 1997 government report explains that an unregulated lawn mower produces forty times the emissions of a car.
  • In general a non-compliant engine has more than ten times the hourly emissions of the same size engine built to regulations.
  • An 8hp non-compliant outboard pushes out more emission per hour than a huge 150hp low emission four stroke of the same brand. Not just more but 59% more. (USEPA certification database)


High emission old technology engines are sometimes cheaper to buy but are not saving Australian’s money. Modern Emissions Compliant engines have much better fuel efficiency than the older generation engines, with a greater use of cutting edge technologies to manage engine efficiency. Many use up to 30% more fuel, and don’t last as long. Overall, the total cost of ownership is significantly higher.

A full range of low emission engines are already being sold in Australia, around half of the products we buy now already meet the future standards. There is no technology to be developed, nothing new to import.

Further reading
The Regulatory Impact Statement, Cost Benefit Analysis and Public Comments 
Expert Panel Report on Marine Engines
Expert Panel Report on Power Equipment