Remote sensing is a developing technology which has the potential to generate important insights into the real-world emissions of the vehicles on our streets. TRUE uses remote sensing data, together with data from other sources, to help inform policymakers, regulators, consumers and manufacturers on these emission levels.

This short video explains how the remote sensing technology works, and what the data it generates shows.

The Real Urban Emissions Initiative (TRUE) supports cities worldwide to develop effective air quality and climate policies with independent real-world vehicle emissions data, technical analysis, and expert advice.

The Problem

Poor air quality is a major issue in cities around the world. Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) is a key contributor to outdoor air pollution and long-term exposure to high levels is linked to a range of adverse health outcomes, including respiratory conditions, as well as stroke, ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. Research by TRUE partner the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) estimates that 11,400 early deaths in Europe each year are linked to ‘excess’ diesel NOx emissions – emissions under real-world driving conditions above legal limits.

Vehicles contribute around 50% of urban NOx in major cities such as London, Delhi, and Bogotá. However, policies to address their contribution are complicated by the huge gaps which exist between the tested and real-world values for these emissions. The ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, which broke in 2015, provided concrete evidence of the gap between real-world vehicle emissions and emissions produced under vehicle compliance tests in a lab. This gap had been documented in other ways and at other times, but the deliberate fraud which was inherent in that scandal gave huge prominence to the issue.

Wider concerns about the quality of urban air, its impact on the health of millions of people, and the evidence of early deaths and chronic illnesses caused by vehicle pollutants is the context for urgent action to address this issue.

Finding a Solution


In 2016 the FIA Foundation – which is working to reduce air pollution from vehicles as part of its safe, clean, fair and green mobility agenda – held an expert seminar to plan a response to the Dieselgate emissions scandal. A key conclusion of the discussion which is contained within the report ‘Can we prevent another Dieselgate?’ was:

“an independent, global, real-world testing initiative is a necessary, important step towards providing improved consumer information regarding emissions.”

The TRUE initiative exists to address this conclusion through collection of real world data on vehicle emissions, research and advocacy.

Scottish cities report

Assessment of real-world vehicle emissions from four Scottish cities in 2022

This report studies emissions in four cities across Scotland which focuses in high emitting trucks and LDVs in a continuation of ongoing work with Transport Scotland.

Find out more

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

“The toxicity of the air in London and many other big cities is an outrage, and schemes of the type we are introducing in London and Paris have the potential to make a massive difference to the quality of the air we all breathe.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London