This is T&E's report on why Europe’s obsession with diesel cars is bad for its economy, its drivers and the environment.
Two years after the Dieselgate scandal exposed the dirty nature of diesel cars, a new study (LINK TO STUDY) by Transport & Environment (T&E) shows that diesel cars not only pollute the air but also emit more climate-change emissions (CO2) than petrol cars. A lifecycle analysis of vehicle emissions proves that diesel cars over its lifetime emit 3.65 tonnes of CO2 more than a petrol equivalent. Diesel’s higher climate impact is due to a more energy-intensive refining of the diesel fuel; more materials required in the production of heavier and more complex engines; higher emissions from the biodiesel blended in the diesel fuel; and longer mileage because fuel is cheaper - see infographics below.
The average car sits unused for more than 90% of the time, carries on average just one and a half people and costs, on average, €6,500 a year to own and run. Each car occupies 150m2 of urban land and still this is not the full bill – congestion costs the EU economy €100 billion annually. The convenience that made the car a 20th century icon has been eroded by its popularity.
Transport has taken over from power generation as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US – and the situation is likely to get worse as the Trump administration plans to weaken emissions standards. T&E says the policy will only damage US carmakers. Transport has been the single biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in Europe since 2016.
EU governments must step back from irreparably weakening Europe’s biggest climate law, six of Europe’s leading environmental NGOs have said, after talks between member states and the European Parliament ended in deadlock this week. The proposed Effort Sharing Regulation sets binding national emission reduction targets for the 2021-2030 period, but governments are insistent on loopholes that would actually result in hundreds of millions of tonnes in additional CO2 emissions.
Europe’s only government that does not tax diesel fuel more favourably than petrol has gone a step further by increasing tax on diesel engine cars while leaving it unaltered for petrol cars. In his annual budget speech, the British chancellor of the exchequer (finance minister) said new diesels that failed to pass the strictest emissions tests would pay more tax each year. T&E said the announcement was more important for its symbolism than its financial impact.
Biased regulations and unfair taxes have skewed the car market in Europe in favour of diesels, a new study has found. Diesel engine cars account for around half of sales in the EU while in the rest of the world they are a niche product.
On 31 May 2017, the European Commission published its proposal to review the ‘Eurovignette’ Directive. The Directive defines how Member States of the European Union can charge vehicles for their use of road infrastructure and was conceived to ensure the proper functioning of the EU transport market. Transport accounts for around a quarter of EU GHG emissions. Meanwhile air pollution from road transport contributes to over 400,000 premature deaths per year, 26,000 people die in traffic annually, and the EU economy loses €100 bn every year in congestion. This briefing outlines why road charging is a key instrument to tackle this.
Germany is in the grips of what may well be the largest cartel case in its industrial history. According to Der Spiegel, a German weekly, Volkswagen and Daimler have turned themselves in to the German and EU competition authorities. The alleged cartel included themselves BMW, Audi and Porsche, and dates back all the way to the 1990s. The news comes roughly a year after the European Commission fined EU truckmakers a record €2.9 billion for price fixing and collusion on emissions technology.
The European Commission has hinted that it might set quotas for carmakers to have a percentage of their fleet made up of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Brussels is working on a revision of CO2 limits from cars and vans, and comments from an official confirm that a ZEV quota is under consideration. T&E has welcomed the development.