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We Suffer While They Profit. Diesel Cars - Is The Government Doing Enough?

Low taxes fueled diesel boom.

You may have been one of the millions that have purchased diesel cars since good old Gordon Brown reduced vehicle excise duty on these sorts of engines back in 2001 - but now it turns out the emissions from your vehicle could be causing health issues.

Brown’s reasoning as chancellor at the time was that diesel engines emitted less C02 than petrol and were, therefore, better for the environment.

But no-one considered the effects of other diesel emissions caused by nitrogen oxide and dioxide (NOx)  polluting the atmosphere.

As a result, over the years many buyers have happily paid more to purchase and insure a diesel vehicle compared with petrol, and ultimately the Government, insurers and car manufacturers have profited while we suffer.

Experts at the Royal College of Physicians estimates around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution in the UK each year, with links to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease.

This is also backed up by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that has warned air pollution can increase the risk of the condition. 

There have been emissions standards for car manufacturers set by the European Union since the early 1990s, so your diesel should have a range from Euro 1 in July 1992 to Euro 6 for vehicles sales and registrations since September 2015.

But these standards are limited to laboratory tests and have proven to be unrealistic, especially when manufacturers have been found to be using defeat devices to get around the guidelines.

Even the UK Government has been in the slow lane over emissions rules.

The Government lost a court case against ClientEarth last year when the high court said targets were too long, especially an aim to introduce clean air zones no sooner than 2020.

The Government is now rumoured to be considering a diesel scrappage scheme for owners to trade in their old car for cash.

Work is being done within bigger cities such as London and Paris. The respective capitals are introducing an online “cleaner vehicle checker” this autumn that independently scores cars based on their emissions.

The move comes ahead of October’s introduction of the £10 “toxicity charge”, on top of the congestion charge fee, for drivers of pre-2006 diesel and petrol vehicles in central London. Black cabs will be exempt from this charge, despite being some of the most polluting vehicles on average. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also consulting on expanding his low emission zones to the North and South Circular roads.

However, There is plenty more campaigners would like to be done.

A spokesman for Doctors Against Diesel said air pollution costs the economy £20billion a year due to the impact on health for individuals and businesses and the extra pressure on the NHS.

The campaign group wants to see diesel vehicles removed from the roads, particularly urban areas and is calling for better testing and wants financial incentives such as lower car tax to be scrapped.

She said: “Diesel vehicles are the single biggest source of urban NOx and particulates.  

“This is not about penalising drivers of diesel cars as people have long been advised that diesel is cleaner, and the impacts on diesel car owners need to be mitigated when developing solutions.”

Despite the criticism of diesel, manufacturers insist they are already working hard to reduce emissions.

A statement from industry representatives at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: “The latest Euro 6 diesel cars are light years away from their older counterparts, emitting drastically reduced NOx and virtually zero soot particulates – and the introduction of on-road emissions testing from September will drive even greater advances. 

“The biggest change to air quality will be achieved by encouraging uptake of the latest, lowest emission technologies, regardless of vehicle or fuel type, and ensuring road transport can move smoothly.”

What about the Benzene in petrol. Lets have a sensible discussion on air pollution. Petrol fumes are just as deadly as diesel fumes, except that all vehicles larger than a SUV, run on diesel power, so its easier to penalise the diesel owner.

Informative, thanks.

If you burn any carbon based fuel you will produce NOx. I you purchase an electric car the energy produced via oil, gas, and coal power stations they produce NOx, CO, CO2, so are they clean?

There is so much ill-informed information being circulated based on biased viewpoints. The most informative I've seen was a real analysis petrol-v-diesel on another motoring website. I recommend interested parties read. Hopefully I have reproduced it below: Petrol vs Diesel – should I buy a diesel car? Petrol and diesel cars still make up the majority of UK car sales, despite gradually increasing electric car sales in the UK. Diesel engines have had a tough time in the press lately and, while some of the criticism is merited, there’s a lot of misinformation that’s lead to some models being demonised unjustly. To help you make the decision between petrol and diesel, we’ve outlined the costs and benefits of each fuel type below. Read on for more info or watch our resident car expert Mat Watson break down the issues involved:

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Demonisation of diesel There’s been a lot of bad press about diesel in recent months thanks to the VW emissions scandal, where real-world testing revealed that some cars’ emissions were far higher than they were when tested in lab conditions. It’s crucial to note that the problems outlined in this scandal affect older diesel models, and the fact modern diesels feature exhaust after treatment such as AdBlue and diesel particulate filters mean they’re fully compliant with the latest Euro6 emissions standards. As a result of the scandal, a new test dubbed the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure will come into effect in September 2017. This will produce more realistic figures for both diesel and petrol-powered cars in real-world environments along with removing the possibility the tests can be cheated. Petrol vs diesel – emissions Many car buyers in the early 2000s chose diesel vehicles because they produced less CO2 emissions than their petrol equivalents – road tax at the time was based solely on CO2 emissions so diesel cars tended to cost less. Diesel models produce more nitrogen dioxide and particulates than petrol ones, however, which can lead to acid rain, smog and respiratory problems in people. The recent changes in car tax and the current uncertainty over diesel models reflects an increased awareness of this environmental damage. Modern diesel cars feature lots of technologies to minimise their environmental effects. These include diesel particulate filters that reduce the number of particles emitted from the exhaust. Some new vehicles use AdBlue – a urea-derived additive sprayed into the exhaust to break down some of the nitrogen dioxides. One way to think about it is that petrol cars are worse for the environment thanks to their generally higher CO2 output, while diesel cars are worse for human health thanks to their greater particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions. Petrol vs diesel – price In general, a diesel car is more expensive than an equivalent petrol version. For example, the Renault Kadjar in Signature S Nav trim with a 130hp 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine costs £24,775, while the 1.5-litre diesel with only 110hp costs £26,745 – almost £2,000 more for a car with less performance. For an equivalent diesel with 130hp, you’ll be paying £27,965 – significantly more than the petrol. In this case, the 1.2-litre petrol averages 49mpg while the 1.5-litre diesel returns 72mpg. Petrol vs diesel – economy While diesel cars cost more to buy than petrol cars, they’re also more efficient. In our tests, we managed 55mpg and 35.4mpg in the diesel and petrol Kadjar respectively. With current fuel prices, you’d have to drive 38,000 miles to break even, so it’s worth considering how many miles you cover per year and how long you’re intending to keep the car before making a decision. Many lower mileage buyers could save money by buying a cheaper petrol car than a pricier diesel car because they won’t own the car long enough to take advantage of the fuel savings. When you take tax and insurance into account, there’s very little in it with the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel being in insurance group 16 and 15 respectively. In their first year, the diesel is just £20 cheaper to tax, then both cars cost the same £140 in subsequent years thanks to the 2017’s new tax regulations. Servicing costs for the two cars are identical, too. Petrol vs diesel – driving Diesel and petrol engines also feel very different from behind the wheel. Diesels provide very strong low-down pulling power which helps them feel relaxing to drive because you require fewer down shifts to generate meaningful acceleration. This low-down grunt also helps if you plan on using your car to tow or regularly carry lots of passengers in your car. Petrol engines, in comparison, typically don’t have as much pulling power as diesels, so have the be revved more to achieve the same performance. While they offer a marginally less grunt, petrol engines have much more top-end power that’s great fun to exploit if you’re driving hard and are generally smoother and more refined leading to a generally more hushed driving experience. Petrol vs diesel – summary Overall, it boils down to what you use the car for. If you cover high annual mileages, often tow or carry passengers on a regular basis we’d recommend going for the diesel. However, if the majority of your driving is around town and short journeys or you want a ‘sportier’ driving experience, petrol is the fuel to go for. Save money on your next car Head over to our car deals page to see carwow’s latest discounts or use our handy car chooser tool for more options. Get an idea of how much your next car could cost per month by using our PCP calculator.

The Government just want to relieve you of as much hard earned cash as they can. So power stations don't count in their argument.

What is the relationship between diesel heavy vehicle nox and family saloon nox taking into consideration that heavy vehicles use approx 45 litres of diesel per 100 Kms and diesel saloons approx 5 litres per 100 Kms on the open road. How about around town?

Of course no mention of people smoking, polluting using e-cigs (now shown to have bad health impact), barbeques, wood/coal burning stoves, oil boilers etc. or the biggest issue to big a population for this country. Perhaps a 'green' technical upgrade of older diesel vehicles to reduced the emissions paid for by the government/car makers (their mistake - their cost). With the low mileage on my diesel its good for another 15 years (one of the reasons for buying it!) - scrapping it would be environmentally criminal considering the CO2 cost.

And, of course, we will be having the same conversation in 'X' years time, with the same arguments about pure petrol and not hybrid power (or electric), encouraging us to go hydrogen power??

If you have a diesel car the emissions will never decrease, if you have an electric it will become greener as renewables continue to grow. Many EV drivers also have solar panels on their roofs which drastically reduces CO2

Euro6 Focus 2.0 TDCi NOx: 359 mg/km. Yaris Hybrid NOx: 2 mg/km with no plug. [ADAC ecotests] . Euro6 NOx limit: 80 for diesels, 60 for petrol.

Diesel comes from crude oil as does petrol, petrol is futher refined than diesel, so how on earth could any logical person think a less refined product could ever be cleaner, I've said this for years. Also car tax should be directly related to emmissions tests produced by the annual MOT. So I therefore think all us drivers of high performance, high compression, extremely hot burning, petrol cars, that emit very little of anything, should start a petition to be refunded for all the years we've been robbed.

There is no totally "green" solution at the moment when you factor in the production of even the greenest vehicles. To create energy you need a fuel of some description and when the most efficient & cleanest solution has been perfected the government will focus its efforts on devising the most lucrative taxation scheme. We may have air quality targets to achieve (which also seems unlikely) but the Government could not balance the books without the revenues generated by fuel duties and vehicles excise licenses. At the risk of appearing defeatist (although I would argue realist) we are pretty much shafted.

hi just like to say I have a euro 6 diesel engine very low emissions its a ds4 £30 road tax great to drive 16 plate so screw you diesel haters

As usual the government give out bad advice and the public picks up the bill, it's easy to pick on the motorists, we have to jump through hoops just for the privilege to pay so much to get on the road, power companies spew out more pollution more than thousands of cars combined but they are owned by big corporations that pay to support the governments, ( I wander why) If the governments are supposed to be making plans on cutting pollution why don't they impose new regulations such as, solar panels on all new builds, a maximum engine sizes in cars, cutting out all these massive V8 plus size engines that get so few miles to the gallon, why allow companies to build street cars that can do 155 mph or more when the maximum speed limit is only 70 mph. Scrappage systems are still paid for by the tax payer, why can't the public actually sue Gordon Brown personally for giving advice without looking into all possible out comes. If you remember the Government told us smokers cost the NHS £1 Billion pounds a year due to smoke related illnesses, what they didn't tell people was that the NHS actually got £10 Billion in revenue from those same smokers. They are the ones that are supposed to give us good advice on what to do, if they are allegedly paying for investigations into these things they should be looking at the whole results not just picking on what they think is the quick fix.

All well and good, after years of being brainwashed by consecutive governments and so-called experts on how beneficial diesel is, I get my first diesel powered car, it will be my last, I am 79 years old, I cannot afford another car, i got this one to eke out my meagre pension, that fails to increase with cost of living. The government will determine I have to scrap my car, they will give me an allowance but only towards a green car... How the hell can I possibly afford a green car? I cannot get credit I am too old, I can only walk with difficulty, I live alone, I need my car to get to medics and do my shopping, nearest shops up a hill half a mile away. I have been driving and owned cars for 62 years, never caused an accident, and now it looks like government perfidy will take all that away... meanwhile, mega polluters, Central Asia (Including Arab lands), Southeast Asia, Africa, United States of America, South America will continue to pollute the world's atmosphere in gay abandon while little Britain's residents are doomed to suffer

The equipment the government used to test diesels way back wasn't sensitive enough to see the fine particulate produced by small high performance diesels with high pressure injection systems and so were rated as clean. It was a non-governmental body that had invested in modern equipment that discovered this while investigating asthma clusters near busy junctions. Conventional diesels produce a large particulate flake that doesn't remain airborne for very long, seemingly dirtier but in fact cleaner than the diesels using new high pressure technology that produce much higher cylinder temperatures and a particulate that can remain airborne almost indefinitely given the right (or wrong) atmospheric conditions. Conventional diesel technology is simple, economic, reliable and long-lasting and there is no reason why it should not continue to be used where it is reasonable to use it, though we will have to again become used to cars and vans being slow to accelerate to relatively modest speeds

All the belly-aching in the world won't change a thing. This is about "money", lives are not important. If there were any realistic concern in official channels we would have: 1) new realistic emissions standards enforced through MOT testing 2) government sponsored research into electric powered vehicles 3) industry incentives to develop new power technologies 4) global charging facilities for electric vehicles 5) urban charges and restrictions on ALL vehicle classes. But, hey, what about the poor oil companies??!! And, what about the governments fuel based revenues??!! No change likely then! Buy a mask. .........or just maybe GB could take the lead in generating real change.

While it seems to be the current thing to hate diesels has anyone considered the particulate emissions from Petrol Direct Injection cars? These are usually found to be considerably higher than diesel vehicles. In addition of course there is the addition of benzene to petrol in place of lead which can again lead to serious health effects. Therefore there is still an excellent case for purchasing a new (euro 6) diesel car as it is as clean as its petrol counterpart and also emits less CO2. Or has global warming been solved this week? Or is it just the turn of another drum to be banged. Regards. Robert

I couldn't agree more. I am just in the process of buying a new car which happens to be euro 6. I find petrol more toxic when I am following a petrol car than the recent diesel engines. It's yet another excuse for the government to exploit motorists and capitalise on "solving a problem" that doesn't even exist.