9 out of 10 new diesel cars are failing to meet EU air pollution limits, according to a report published today by sustainable transport group Transport & Environment. This is due to manufacturers testing their new vehicles in laboratory conditions which do not reflect actual emissions of pollutants on the road. The research found that on average diesel cars in the EU are producing emissions about five times higher than the permitted limit.
It came as the UK government admitted in a consultation document this weekend that 50,000 people in the UK are dying prematurely each year as a result of air pollution, 23,500 of them from toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which is emitted largely from diesel engines.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, one of the lead negotiators on the EU's new air quality law, commented:
"Once seen as a way to tackle climate change, we now know that the switch to diesel has had a disastrous impact on air quality in our cities.
"This research shows manufacturers are still dragging their heels when it comes to making the transition to cleaner vehicles.
"It is about time that EU air pollution limits were properly enforced and not sidestepped or ignored. The longer we wait, the more lives will be tragically cut short."