posted 6 months ago

We Suffer While They Profit. Diesel Cars - Is The Government Doing Enough?

Low taxes fueled diesel boom.

You may have been one of the millions that have purchased diesel cars since good old Gordon Brown reduced vehicle excise duty on these sorts of engines back in 2001 - but now it turns out the emissions from your vehicle could be causing health issues.

Brown’s reasoning as chancellor at the time was that diesel engines emitted less C02 than petrol and were, therefore, better for the environment.

But no-one considered the effects of other diesel emissions caused by nitrogen oxide and dioxide (NOx)  polluting the atmosphere.

As a result, over the years many buyers have happily paid more to purchase and insure a diesel vehicle compared with petrol, and ultimately the Government, insurers and car manufacturers have profited while we suffer.

Experts at the Royal College of Physicians estimates around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution in the UK each year, with links to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease.

This is also backed up by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that has warned air pollution can increase the risk of the condition. 

There have been emissions standards for car manufacturers set by the European Union since the early 1990s, so your diesel should have a range from Euro 1 in July 1992 to Euro 6 for vehicles sales and registrations since September 2015.

But these standards are limited to laboratory tests and have proven to be unrealistic, especially when manufacturers have been found to be using defeat devices to get around the guidelines.

Even the UK Government has been in the slow lane over emissions rules.

The Government lost a court case against ClientEarth last year when the high court said targets were too long, especially an aim to introduce clean air zones no sooner than 2020.

The Government is now rumoured to be considering a diesel scrappage scheme for owners to trade in their old car for cash.

Work is being done within bigger cities such as London and Paris. The respective capitals are introducing an online “cleaner vehicle checker” this autumn that independently scores cars based on their emissions.

The move comes ahead of October’s introduction of the £10 “toxicity charge”, on top of the congestion charge fee, for drivers of pre-2006 diesel and petrol vehicles in central London. Black cabs will be exempt from this charge, despite being some of the most polluting vehicles on average. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also consulting on expanding his low emission zones to the North and South Circular roads.

However, There is plenty more campaigners would like to be done.

A spokesman for Doctors Against Diesel said air pollution costs the economy £20billion a year due to the impact on health for individuals and businesses and the extra pressure on the NHS.

The campaign group wants to see diesel vehicles removed from the roads, particularly urban areas and is calling for better testing and wants financial incentives such as lower car tax to be scrapped.

She said: “Diesel vehicles are the single biggest source of urban NOx and particulates.  

“This is not about penalising drivers of diesel cars as people have long been advised that diesel is cleaner, and the impacts on diesel car owners need to be mitigated when developing solutions.”

Despite the criticism of diesel, manufacturers insist they are already working hard to reduce emissions.

A statement from industry representatives at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “The latest Euro 6 diesel cars are light years away from their older counterparts, emitting drastically reduced NOx and virtually zero soot particulates – and the introduction of on-road emissions testing from September will drive even greater advances. 

“The biggest change to air quality will be achieved by encouraging uptake of the latest, lowest emission technologies, regardless of vehicle or fuel type, and ensuring road transport can move smoothly.”