Emission standards

Fuel and emission standards are the responsibility of the Federal Government, and we work closely with them to ensure standards remain high. For further information please see the Australian Government’s Ministerial Forum on Vehicle Emissions.

Fuel standards

As vehicle emissions control technology becomes more sophisticated, the quality of the fuel is critical. The Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 provides the legislative framework for the Australian Government in setting the national fuel quality and fuel quality information standards. This Act is managed by the Federal Department of Environment and Energy.

Fuel quality standards have been made for the following fuel types:

Standards for petrol, diesel, LPG and biodiesel address fuel properties that are considered important in facilitating the adoption of emerging vehicle engine and emission control technologies and managing levels of pollutants that are identified as posing health and environmental problems (source: Department of Infrastructure and Transport).

Reducing sulphur

Reducing the sulphur content of fuel reduces fine particle pollution and also allows the use of exhaust after treatment devices. The use of high technology low emission engines also reduces fine particle pollution.

An overview of fuel standards in Australia


Year and reduction in sulphur levels - parts per million (ppm)

Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001

2003 – Sulphur levels in diesel fuel were limited to 500ppm.

Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001

2003 – Sulphur levels were reduced to 50ppm.

Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001

2009 – Sulphur levels were further reduced to 10ppm.

Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001

2002 – Sulphur levels in unleaded fuel were reduced to 500ppm.

Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001

2005 – Sulphur levels were reduced to 150ppm.

Fuel Standard (Petrol) Determination 2001

2008 – Sulphur levels were reduced to 50ppm for premium unleaded petrol only.

For further information about fuel quality standards, please visit the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

Vehicle emission standards

Australia has improved the emissions performance of new vehicles by promoting the adoption of more stringent fuel and emission standards. Since the early 1970s, these standards have progressively tightened. The current standards reflect Australia's commitment to harmonise with the vehicle standards developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.

The links below provide summaries of the emission limits which apply for light and heavy vehicles and their timetable for adoption in the Australian Design Rules (ADR’s).

The ADRs are performance standards which specify the maximum levels of emissions permitted under a specified test. The ADRs do not mandate the use of any particular technology, although it has been necessary for vehicle manufacturers to fit catalytic converters and other related technologies to light petrol vehicles in order to meet the emission limits introduced by ADR 37/00 and later standards (source: Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities).

Find out more information in the overview of the Australian Design Rules for new light and heavy vehicles (PDF, 42.95 KB) on the Australian market.

Australian design rules (emission standards)

An overview of the Australian Design Rules for new light and heavy vehicles (PDF, 42.95 KB) on the Australian market.