Yesterday’s announcement from the Meeting of State and Federal Environment Ministers gave the final green light for non-road spark-ignition engine emissions standards. This will bring Australia in line with the USA who lead the world in emissions standards for petrol engine equipment including lawn mowers, outboards, chain saws and generators.
The Ministers had made an “in principle” agreement at their July meeting, which started the ball rolling with a Working Group formed of industry, government and public community representatives formed to advise how best to implement standards for Australia. That report is due before the end of December.

The timetable after December is not locked in. But according to Gary Fooks, Chair of the Blue Sky Alliance and member of the working group “If we stick to the ambitious program set by Minister Hunt, that would see and Exposure Draft of the Legislation released early 2016 and the Bill introduced before June 2016. Actual commencement of the standards would depend on passage of the legislation through Parliament and industry advice on phasing-in.” All representatives of the Working Group agreed that the introduction of standards should progress to the next steps as soon as possible. The Working Group has played an important role in advising on key settings for the implementation of the standards, such as exemptions, phase-ins for certain engine categories and how to most efficiently monitor compliance across the industry.

Asked if that meant no more two stroke lawn mowers or outboards after July Gary was quick to point out “let’s be clear, these laws are not an attack on any one technology: we will still have quality two cycle technology hand held products like chainsaws, and of course Direct Injection two stroke outboards, but yes, four strokes will be the most common engine type for ground supported product in the future.”

Any phase in is likely to be limited. Existing dealer stock gets exempted as the laws should only apply to new imports. And of course no law will ban what the public already has in the garage.

OPEA has long recommended moving immediately to USA Phase 2 but delay meeting the current US standard until the existing EU standard matches the US in 2019.

Fuel system evaporative standards may be delayed until June 2017, to allow Australian tank manufacturers to develop the technology already employed in the USA

In the end, the choice will be up to the Minister to decide based on the advice he has received.

An Extract from the Ministers’ Statement:

Ministers agreed to introduce emission standards for new non-road spark ignition engines (such as garden equipment and marine outboard motors). Non-road spark ignition engines are a significant contributor to air pollution. The introduction of new standards will bring Australia into line with existing international standards, particularly those in North America. Ministers also noted that a working group of experts is on track to provide interim advice this year on implementing the standards, with the aim of introducing legislation into Federal Parliament in mid-2016.

Gareth Taylor
OPEA President