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7th February 2018

Diesel Scandal - more EU Meddling *Updated 10th January 2019); re-issued (4th February 2019)

With more and more attacks upon the driving public and the motor manufacturers - two background reports - detailing the reasons are re-presented here:

Two recent reports looked into the background of the Diesel scandal where at one point we are encouraged to buy Diesel, now we are told that Diesel is more dangerous than petrol and as a result all the diesel cars we bought have now lost most of their resale value and Diesel car owners are being demonised and punished financially for something that we were told was the right type of vehicle to own.

The first report: "The rise of diesel in Europe: the impact on health and pollution" by John Vidal September 2015  and the second "Europe's love affair with diesel cars has been a disaster" by Brad Plumer updated October, 2015 chronicled the sad sorry story of vested interest and the EU, notably German interference within the EU.

From the first report "Diesel was a niche market in Europe until the mid-1990s, making up less than 10% of the car fleet. Diesel produces 15% less CO2 than petrol, but emit four times more nitrogen dioxide pollution (NO2) and 22 times more particulates - the tiny particles that penetrate the lungs, brain and heart."

This situation changed in Europe because of two factors - the Kyoto Protocol climate change agreement in 1997 legally requiring countries reduce CO2 emissions by an average of 8% and EU lobbying by German car manufacturers to incentivise diesel.

"The subsequent EC 1998 Acea agreement with all European car makers was backed by then EU transport commissioner Neil Kinnock and UK environment secretary John Prescott. It committed passenger car-makers to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% over 10 years."

As a result of the above two factors "The European car fleet was transformed from being almost entirely petrol to predominantly diesel. Britain, along with Germany, France and Italy, offered subsidies and sweeteners to persuade car makers and the public to buy diesel,” said Simon Birkett, director of the Clean Air London group.

The problems escalated as German car manufacturers ramped up diesel production and found it easy to "fiddle" emission tests and the diesel vehicles became mainstream - in Britain, "Gordon Brown under EU pressure" incentivised diesel over petrol with price differentials.

The so-called CO2 climate change effects were considered to be more important than other considerations related to the effects of air pollution and particulate output (ironically there is little evidence that switching to diesel has had any effect of "Climate Change" (see the second report)) - but the problems we are currently facing in the UK were ultimately down to vested interests in Europe and New Labour's "Global Warming" obsession.

As for how we should proceed in future, apart from improvements to existing technology, switching to hybrid or electric cars - from the second report: "it's worth noting that Toyota, which was ahead of the pack in developing hybrid electrics in the late 1990s, actually doesn't believe battery-electric cars are the future and is pouring R&D into hydrogen cars instead."

Clearly the EU and Germany, in particular, take a pragmatic approach to environmental standards and lobbying induced legislation (Directives and Regulations) - which is worrying enough, but when the EU is able to control the behaviour of some 500 million people it is clear that the system in the EU does not work properly and penalises the population, while the manufacturers and governments profit. 

The EU is potentially a very dangerous organisation in its present manifestation, partly because it primarily makes laws on behalf of moneyed lobbyists and partly because of its obsession with controlling the Member States on behalf of those lobbyists - by enacting lobbyist friendly laws which the Member States' own governments cannot prevent from applying to their own citizens.

But as dangerous as it is now, the EU will become even more dangerous - if its power increases.

Please read the two reports for a comprehensive view of why we have such a problem with pollution, particularly in the large cities such as London and Paris.