Don't Breathe Here: Tackling air pollution from vehicles

Every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). All new diesel cars should have met the Euro 6 auto emissions standard from 1 September – but just one in 10 tested complied with the legal limit. (See infographic)

On average new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit. The results are compiled in a new report, Don’t Breathe Here, in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit.

In fact just three out of 23 tested vehicles met the new standards when tested on the road. The main reason is Europe’s testing system is obsolete, allowing carmakers to use cheaper, less effective exhaust treatment systems in cars sold in Europe, according to newly released data. In contrast, diesel cars sold by the same manufacturers in the US, where limits are tighter and tests are more rigorous, have better exhaust treatment systems and produce lower emissions.

In this report T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars – the worst of which, an Audi, emitted 22 times the allowed EU limit. In fact, every major car manufacturer is selling diesel cars that fail to meet EU air pollution limits on the road in Europe, according to data obtained by T&E.

As a consequence of this and emissions from diesel machines, much urban air in Europe is not fit to breathe. The high levels of particles, nitrogen oxides and unburned fuel create a cocktail of harmful pollution. The effects are half a million premature deaths each year; a quarter of a million hospital admissions; and 100 million lost working days cumulatively costing over €900 billion.

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