Parliament calls time on polluting vehicle manufacturers

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Car manufactures should be made to pay for their part in the damaging health impacts of dirty air caused by the promotion of diesel vehicles, says Parliament’s ‘super-inquiry’ into air quality, in a report which is welcomed by the The Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) Initiative.

According to the report toxic air is responsible for 40,000 early deaths each year, at a cost to the economy of £20bn, a situation which they call a ‘national health emergency’. Under the polluter pays” principle vehicle manufacturers should pay their share towards that cost because diesel cars are a significant source of toxic nitrogen dioxide, which is linked to a wide array of health issues including lung and heart diseases.

The problem is that – as the 2016 dieselgate scandal revealed – the true scale of the issue is not known because almost all diesel cars’ emissions are much higher that laboratory tests show. As data on real world NOx emissions published by ICCT in 2017 shows. the global diesel fleet produces 50% more NOx emissions than stated in laboratory testing, resulting in 38,000 deaths worldwide. China, India and Europe are the most affected and carry 80% of this death toll between them.

Without good data on what is actually being emitted, it is impossible to frame a coherent response, and that is why the work of the TRUE initiative in undertaking remote sensing of the on-road emissions of vehicles is so important. Good data will not only enable us to more fully understand the contribution which vehicles are making to this health crisis, it will also underpin better policy to avoid dirty air in the first place, and enable cleaner customer choices.