Nonregulated diesel engines, including shipping and nonroad transport


Nonroad diesel engines and equipment are used in a wide variety of applications, including rail transport, mining, construction, industrial, shipping and airport services, and can be high pollution emitters. In Australia, there are no regulations or standards in place that limit emissions from nonroad diesel engines, but many of the countries where these engines are sourced do have controls. Regulated emissions limits for nonroad engines have been in force in the United States and European Union since the mid-1990s. China, India, Japan and Canada also have regulated emissions limits for nonroad engines.

Nationally, nonroad diesel engines (including rail and marine transport) are estimated to emit around 18,000 tonnes of PM10 per year (Environ 2010, 2013; Goldsworthy 2011). This is of a similar magnitude to emissions from the on-road vehicles sector. NOx (nitrogen dioxide [NO2] and nitric oxide [NO]) emissions from all nonroad diesel engines are estimated to be around 190,000 tonnes per year, equal to about half the total NOx emissions from on-road vehicles. Reducing emissions from this sector would contribute to reducing particle and ozone pollution, and associated health risks in cities and regional Australia.

Emissions from ships in port are a growing pressure on ambient air quality, both locally and within the airshed. This pressure was highlighted by the recent construction of the White Bay Cruise Terminal near residential areas, without the provision of shore power. Cruise ships burning fuel with a sulfur content of up to 3.5 per cent emit high levels of fine particles and sulfur dioxide. In 2015, New South Wales introduced regulations on fuel quality for cruise ships in Sydney Harbour, but these have not yet been adopted in other ports. In mid-2016, the regulations were determined to be inoperative because of the 2015 amendments to the Commonwealth Protection of the Sea Act 1983.


XPT (express passenger train) climbing out of Armidale, New South Wales

XPT express passenger train climbing out of Armidale, New South Wales

Photo by Mark Hibberd

Keywood MD, Emmerson KM, Hibberd MF (2016). Ambient air quality: Nonregulated diesel engines, including shipping and nonroad transport. In: Australia state of the environment 2016, Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Canberra,, DOI 10.4226/94/58b65c70bc372