More than one-and-a-half years after the dieselgate scandal erupted the number of dirty diesels poisoning the air Europeans breathe keeps growing. New T&E research shows that there are 35 million of these diesel cars and vans driving on Europe’s roads today, six million more than in 2015. These Euro 5 and 6 diesel cars and vans were sold in Europe between 2011 and 2016 and exceed the nitrogen oxides (NOx) limits by at least three times.
Carmakers cheats are the sole reason why diesel cars and vans surpass NOx limits on the road with emission control technology mostly switched off or down. These excess NOx emissions alone caused nearly 7,000 early deaths in Europe in 2015. Air pollution is Europe’s biggest environmental health problem. In total, nitrogen oxides are estimated to kill 70,000 Europeans every year.
Unlike the US, dirty diesels on our roads keep growing because no national government in Europe has penalised or fined any carmaker nor taken grossly polluting diesels off the road.
Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and air quality manager at Transport & Environment (T&E), said: “There has been no progress in Europe over a year after dieselgate: carmakers cheats continue to kill people. The air pollution crisis in European cities is mainly caused by the unwillingness or inability of national authorities to act to recall and repair cars unfit for the road or even stop more rolling off production lines. It’s high time for lawmakers to put citizens’ health above the purse of carmakers.”
The top car manufacturing countries in Europe have the highest numbers of grossly polluting diesels. The number in Germany grew to 6.5 million in 2016. 5.3 million are driving on UK roads; Italy has almost 4 million and Spain counts 2.4 million.
The discredited car approval system is at the heart of dieselgate. On May 29th ministers of the 28 member states will meet in Brussels to agree a common position on how to reform the system abused by carmakers. Both the European Commission and European Parliament want a better, independent system to prevent future dieselgates. But the German government is the only one to be actively blocking the reform as it opposes new EU-wide checks and oversight of car approvals.
“The current reform is one-in-a-decade chance to fix Europe’s broken system for approving cars that is allowing dieselgate to continue. If Chancellor Merkel insists on protecting VW, Daimler, Audi and BMW interests and blocking progress, ministers of the 27 member states must remain equally firm in protecting Europeans health. At stake are the 70,000 early deaths each year.”