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40 MEPs voted for the rejection, 9 against it while 13 abstained.
Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and air quality officer at T&E, said: “The European Parliament stood up for Europe by saying yes to clean air and no to cheating. We applaud MEPs’ decision to stop carmaking countries’ illegal move to pardon excess emissions. The technology to clean up exhausts is readily available and will cost just €100 for most cars. It is a small price to pay for clean air.”
On 28 October, EU governments agreed to new NOx limits from diesel cars that are more than double the ‘Euro 6’ levels agreed back in 2007. They also delayed the implementation of new limits for all new cars until 2019. From 2021, all new cars will still be allowed to emit 50% more NOx than the Euro 6 limit of 80mg per km.
Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have deemed the Commission decision illegal because it “exceeds the implementing powers granted by the EU legislature and is incompatible with the Euro 6 Regulation’s aim to progressively reduce vehicle emissions and achieve air quality objectives.”
Two weeks ago the European Environment Agency said that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is responsible for an estimated 72,000 premature deaths in Europe. Italy (21,600), the UK (14,100) Germany (10,400), France (7,700) and Spain (5,900) suffered the most premature deaths from these toxic emissions. All these countries lobbied in favour of weaker limits for diesel cars but are breaching EU nitrogen dioxide limits. Air pollution from NO2 is largely caused by diesel vehicles in urban areas.
“72,000 deaths from nitrogen dioxide in Europe, mainly from diesel vehicles, is an avoidable death-toll. Environment ministers of the 28 countries should think twice before granting carmakers a licence to pollute. Beyond corporate misconduct, premature deaths and quality of European lives are at stake in this decision.”
Environment ministers will meet on 16 December to consider the decision of 28 October that weakens and delays NOx limits for diesel cars.