Fuel Quality

The Better Fuel for Cleaner Air submission to the Australian Government on Fuel Quality Standards discusses the science, technology, and regulatory issues that must be considered if fuel quality and hence air quality is to be improved. In particular, it should be noted that: 

  • fuel quality improvements are necessary to reduce vehicular emissions 
  • levels of sulfur and aromatics need to be decreased in petrol, and minimum octane increased to 95 RON
  • Australian fuel quality standards must align with international standards for the most efficient Euro 5/V, 6/VI vehicles to be imported (which require Euro 5/V, 6/VI certified fuel)
  • fuel quality changes should be timely, or otherwise Australia forgoes more than $370 million of avoided health costs each year
  • net national benefits should be optimised, which can occur through options that allow motorists to purchase the necessary fuels for their vehicles (via market competition in fuel quality) and so achieve emissions, operability and performance outcomes.

Importantly, these principles allow the implementation of market and price-based solutions that avoid direct regulatory pressure on Australian refineries, so preventing or limiting job losses at Australian refineries. 

With the proposed and desirable changes to fuel quality standards, Australians should be able to purchase better fuel and with that have greater vehicle choice, better vehicle performance, better fuel efficiency, reduced noxious and greenhouse gas emissions and improved health. 


David Swanton is an ethicist, scientist and director of Ethical Rights .