The European Commission has proposed new standards for transport fuels that will reduce their contribution to climate change and air pollution.

According to a statement from the European Commission, the proposed standards will not only make the fuels themselves ‘cleaner’ but will also allow the introduction of vehicles and machinery that pollute less.

A key measure foreseen is that, to encourage the development of lower-carbon fuels and biofuels, suppliers will have to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production, transport and use of their fuels by 10% between 2011 and 2020. This will cut emissions by 500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2020 – equivalent to the total combined emissions of Spain and Sweden today.

Furthermore, a new petrol blend will be established allowing higher content of the biofuel ethanol, and sulphur levels in diesel and gasoil will be cut to reduce emissions of dangerous dust particles.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said: This is one of the most important measures in the series of new initiatives the commission needs to take to step up the fight against global climate change. It will further underpin Europe’s shift towards the low-carbon economy that is essential if we are to prevent climate change from reaching dangerous proportions.