The Diesel Fiasco and the AGW Cult:
Amid all the reporting of Volkswagen’s rigging of emission tests on its diesel cars, one inconvenient truth has been overlooked by the BBC and many media organisations. It is that we very largely owe the prevalence of these death-traps to the pernicious tyranny of the Green lobby.
That they are death traps can scarcely be denied. They spew out vastly more nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide than petrol cars, both of which gases are potentially damaging, and 22 times more particulates — the minute particles that penetrate lungs, brains and hearts.
According to Martin Williams, professor of air quality research at King’s College London, diesel cars account for roughly 5,800 premature deaths a year in the UK alone. Other experts put the figure even higher.
Twenty years ago, diesel cars constituted a tiny minority. But following the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, most Western countries, including Britain, were legally obliged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — alleged by some to cause climate change — by 8 per cent over the following 15 years.
Diesel cars produce slightly less — but only slightly — carbon dioxide than petrol ones. In 2001 the Labour government introduced a new tax regime whereby cars were taxed according to how much carbon dioxide they produce, a development that enormously favoured diesel over petrol. (Duty at the pump has been the same for petrol and diesel since 2000.)
Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, also introduced tax incentives to encourage company car buyers to plump for diesels. Across the EU, car manufacturers were encouraged to develop diesel models.
As a consequence, about half of new cars in Britain are now diesels. In some European countries such as France and Italy, where there have been similar inducements, the proportion is even higher.
When recently buying a new car, I was attracted to a diesel partly because its annual tax was only £40, in comparison to £150 for the petrol version, otherwise identical. Happily, my wife, who had read about the polluting effects of diesels, overruled me. Even I had been almost gulled by Green lobbyists and the blandishments of politicians into doing something that I would have regretted.
You may say ministers didn’t realise that diesels discharge dangerous emissions — but you would be wrong. A 1993 report published by the Department of the Environment was fully aware of the potentially lethal effects of diesel cars.