When news broke last year of the scandal involving Volkswagen Audi Group’s attempts to hide emission figures by tampering with the software in their cars, many car enthusiasts knew that this was going to be the tip of a very large iceberg.

Yesterday those suspicions came true when Transport & Environment (T&E) revealed figures that are both incredible and damning. While announcing that as a result of a new study carried out, incredibly, Volkswagen is currently selling the least polluting (Euro 6) diesel vehicles, the damning part is that Fiat and Suzuki diesel cars on average pollute 15 times more than the legal NOx limit; Renault-Nissan vehicles exceed the limit more than 14 times; General Motors’ brands Opel/Vauxhall pollute 10 times more while Volkswagen diesel cars pollute twice as much as the Euro 6 standard.

Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at T&E, was quoted as saying that: “One year after the US caught Volkswagen cheating; all carmakers keep selling grossly polluting diesel cars with the connivance of European governments. The automotive industry has captured its regulators, and European countries must now stand up for their citizens and stop this scandalous cover up. Only a recall of all harmful diesel cars will clean up our air and restore credibility in Europe’s legal system.”

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Taken from yesterday’s announcement, T&E stated that today, 29 million diesel cars and vans driving on Europe’s roads are classified as ‘dirty’, meaning that, for Euro 5 cars, they are at least 3 times over the relevant NOx limit. Only one in four diesel vehicles registered since 2011 achieve these modest thresholds. These vehicles were approved for sale by national type approval authorities, mainly in Germany, France, the UK, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The largest number of ‘dirty’ diesels is found on French roads (5.5 million), followed by Germany (5.3 million), the UK (4.3 million), Italy (3.1 million), Spain (1.9 million) and Belgium (1.4 million).

This is white collar crime at its most dangerous with pollution levels out of control and not being made public. Only recently the World Health Organisation described worsening air pollution levels as a “public health emergency”. We enjoy the fruits of a capitalist market where free trade and consumerism gives us luxuries our parents could only dream of having twenty years ago. But this standard of living should not be at the expense of our health. We applauded the European Union for tackling tax and monopoly cartels, but it’s now time for the EU to step up and take on those who are lying about the damage to the environment and our health that their products are causing. We need to hit them where it hurts the most – their wallets.

Greg Archer summed it up when he said that “the true scandal of Dieselgate in Europe is national regulators turning a blind eye to the glaring evidence of test cheating with the sole purpose of protecting their national carmakers or their own business. This is killing tens of thousands of people annually. We need a European watchdog to stop EU member states protecting their national champions and to ensure the single market for vehicles operates in the interests of all citizens.”

Info gram courtesy of Transport & Environment press release Published on September 19, 2016 – 06:50

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