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  • France the latest government protecting national carmakers in Dieselgate probes

    The Financial Times today on its front page [paywall] reported that the French government investigation into Dieselgate omitted crucial details about how Renault's diesel cars were able to emit much more harmful emissions on the road than in the lab. Allegedly, the state inquiry, known as Commission Royal after the minister in charge of the investigation Ségolène Royal, did not disclose the full results of studies analysing the enormous gap between real-world performance and lab test results of certain models including the Renault Captur.

    Jos Dings, executive director of Brussels-based sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, commented:“This is yet another example of a government protecting its own national industry champion, but it is not isolated to France. The Italian government protects Fiat, the German government covers for Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, and the UK looks out for British interests. Here is where Europe can add value and set up a European watchdog that keeps in check the conflict of interests in each national market.”

    The French government holds a 20% stake in Renault.

    The World Health Organisation has described worsening air pollution levels as a “public health emergency”. Last year, 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. Air pollution from NO2 is largely caused by diesel vehicles in urban areas.

    Jos Dings concluded:“We have known for quite some time now that diesel cars emit much more toxic fumes on the road than in the labs, worsening air pollution in our cities. The whole point of the Commission Royal was to get to the bottom of things, not to keep findings in the dark and away from public scrutiny. If the French government is serious about combating toxic air in French cities, Minister Royal must come clean and disclose the full findings of her inquiry.”