The Global Sulfur Strategy

The Global Sulfur Strategy

The Global Strategy to Introduce Low Sulfur Fuels and Cleaner Diesel Vehicles is the first global roadmap to reduce small particulate and black carbon emissions from the global on-road diesel fleet by over 90%, with recommendations for specific actions in regions, countries and cities. It presents a strategy for how the world can transition to low-sulfur fuels and cleaner diesel vehicles within a decade by focusing on the local markets in which countries are operating and recommending 36 countries for near-term support.

The global on-road fleet is set to triple by 2050 and diesel engines power the dominant share of goods movement, construction equipment, and public transport vehicles in the global economy. 85% of road transportation is powered by diesel engines; diesel engines are significant sources of PM2.5 – and in many cities the major source. Now is the time to stem the projected climate and health tolls of rapid motorization worldwide.


Formulated by the co-leads of the Heavy-Duty Diesel Initiative (the Government of the United States of America, the Government of Canada, the Government of Switzerland, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Council on Clean Transportation), this strategy builds the case for a strategic global approach by expanding on a set of preparatory studies which include a market analysis, a refinery analysis, a health benefits analysis and several case studies to illustrate the benefits, identify opportunities and target countries and regions for action.

The introduction of low-sulfur fuels – fuels with no more than 50 parts per million (ppm) sulfur, and ideally ultra low 10 or 15 ppm sulfur - and cleaner diesel vehicle standards can prevent an estimated 500,000 premature deaths per year by 2050.

While global progress on desulfurization has been impressive over the past decade, it needs to be accelerated and more widespread. More than half of the world’s countries are still using high-sulfur fuels.

Advancing vehicle emissions standards along with lowering fuel sulfur content globally would reduce cumulative emissions of diesel black carbon by an estimated 7.1 million metric tons through the year 2050. This would bring down annual black carbon emissions from on-road vehicles by over 85% by 2050 in regions where high sulfur levels in fuels are still used.

The Global Sulfur Strategy shows that the net present value of the health gains to 2050 in terms of avoided mortalities is estimated at $18 trillion. The total costs of desulfurization and emission controls are estimated at around $1.1 trillion over the same period; therefore, estimated benefits to 2050 outweigh costs by a factor of around 16.

By analyzing markets, refineries and country progress to date, the Global Sulfur Strategy proposes an ambitious, but realistic, desulfurization timeline:  low sulfur diesel (50 ppm) can be phased in for most countries by 2020 and for all remaining countries by 2025, while ultra low-sulfur diesel (10 ppm) can be phased in progressively, representing the majority of global on-road diesel supply by 2030.

The Global Sulfur Strategy guides the ongoing work of the Diesel Initiative to reduce sulfur levels in fuels and improve vehicle emission standards and is also an invitation to partner with the CCAC in the global desulfurization effort.

Resources & tools

Activity contact

Denise Sioson,
Diesel & HFC Initiative Coordinator
Denise.Sioson [at]

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