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Drivers never seem to have a very good time of things when it comes to the price of diesel or petrol. In recent years, legislation has hit drivers hard. Many people changed from petrol to diesel engine cars from the mid nineties onwards, as they’d been told that diesel was both cost effective, and gave off less dangerous fumes than petrol. The idea that diesel was less polluting than petrol was also supported by EU policy.
Whoever said that diesel would be ecologically better than petrol may not have got their facts straight. According to recent research on vehicle emissions, diesel fuel engines actually produce between 25 and 50% more dangerous black carbon fumes than petrol engines. Although all diesel engine cars made in the last ten years carry particulate filters, the fact that three quarters of these filters fail to work as expected is worrying. These findings have led some ecologists to say that rather than reducing the effects of global warming by producing less CO2 gasses, diesel has, in fact contributed to the problem.
Diesel engine cars emit nitrogen dioxide, which pollutes the air that we breathe and contributes to a large number of deaths each year. The problem is going to get worse before things get better, as more than fifty percent of all the new cars that are sold across Europe have diesel engines. European drivers are more inclined to choose a diesel engine car because of the tax breaks offered by the EU.
Outside of Europe, the growth in sales of petrol hybrid cars has led to twenty percent lower carbon emissions in countries like Japan. If the Brussels policy makers choose to promote the use of hybrid cars, which they don’t right now, this change could lead to significantly lower harmful emissions.
Car Tax in the UK
Many people from the motor industry, particularly those producing diesel fuelled vehicles, still say that diesel is not more of a problem than petrol, and emit less carbon dioxide over a distance. They also dispute the argument that most of the filters on diesel engine cars don’t work. The Ministry of Transport says that while it is not illegal to remove filters that don’t work, it’s illegal to drive a diesel engine car without a filter.
There are some politicians who argue that the tax breaks on diesel should end, and perhaps the industry should think about investing in hybrid engines. If the EU supported this development with tax breaks, it could lead, as it has in countries like Japan, to much lower rates of harmful emissions. While some officials don’t accept the report’s findings, if the research is correct, will this affect car tax in Europe and in the UK? Black carbon emissions can have an adverse effect on people’s health as it tends to hang around in the lower atmosphere. While some scientists argue that it is also damaging to the upper atmosphere and adds to global warming, needless to say, many people in the car industry disagree.