The recent Belgium TV expose has opened a new debate about how “clean” diesel cars really are in the real world and the effectiveness of both the emissions testing and car approval system.
There are 35 million dirty diesel cars and vans driving on Europe’s roads today – six million more than when the Dieselgate scandal broke in 2015. The growth in the number of poisonous vehicles in the fleet – revealed by new T&E research – will be a stark reminder to MEPs as they enter negotiations with governments this September to reform the flawed system of testing and approving cars for sale in Europe.
Advertised and on-road fuel consumption figures continue to drift apart: over the last 10 years, the gap has tripled to more than 40%. Demanding fuel figures you can trust, Germany’s Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and Transport & Environment (T&E) have launched their pan-European campaign with the online tool get-real.org. The website highlights the carmakers’ tricks to manipulate fuel consumption tests as well as costs and the environmental impact of cars guzzling ever more fuel.
MEPs from the internal market committee (IMCO) became the latest group to back reform of the flawed and obsolete type approval system for cars which is at the heart of the Dieselgate scandal. The vote came as details emerged of special treatment for Fiat vehicles in tests conducted by Italy’s official investigation into Dieselgate.
National regulators turning a blind eye to vehicle test cheating is the main culprit for the 29 million ‘dirty’ diesel cars on European roads today. On the occasion of the Dieselgate anniversary T&E launched a damning report showing that those 29 million cars and vans exceed by at least three times Europe’s legal NOx limits, known as Euro 5 and Euro 6. The vehicles, which grossly pollute the environment and cause thousands of premature deaths every year, were approved for sale by national type approval authorities, mainly in Germany, France and the UK.
Last year was the one in which it became plain for everyone to see that transport had turned from being the grey sheep to the black sheep in Europe and the world’s efforts to improve the environment.
Air pollution is costing more than $160 billion (€143 billion) a year in lost productivity, according to new data released by the World Bank. The data also show that air pollution has its greatest impact in poorer countries.
Further decarbonisation of transport through a shift to alternative fuels and electro-mobility forms a major part of the European Commission’s strategy for an ‘energy union’, unveiled last week. With transport being responsible for more than 30% of EU energy consumption and a quarter of emissions, the Commission said legislation on ‘decarbonising the transport sector, including an action plan on alternative fuels’ would be put forward in 2017.
The Commission has said a number of EU member states could be making more and better use of environmental taxation.
EU governments last week agreed three modest targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase the share of renewable energy and improve energy efficiency by 2030. Environmental groups said the goals would not do enough to cut Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels and put it on track to meet its own 2050 climate pledges.