Majority of Europeans Want Ban on Petrol and Diesel Cars by 2030

Petrol and diesel cars are considered two of the most dangerous means of transportation because of their contribution to global warming and their effect on the environment in general. The emissions released through their tailpipes are highly toxic and polluting. 

Diesel cars used to be the popular alternative for those who prefer environmentally friendly vehicles, but only until the Dieselgate scandal revealed that their emissions affect the global climate, environment, and human health. 

The diesel emissions scam initially involved German carmaker Volkswagen and exposed the dangers of diesel vehicles equipped with defeat devices. These vehicles have extremely high nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and have contributed to the rise in hospital visits and admissions, emergency room and GP visits, school and work absences, chronic respiratory conditions, and premature death.

As a result, governments, environmental volunteers and organisations have come up with several mandates, programs, and laws intended to curb toxic petrol and diesel emissions.

In the UK, the government has established Clean Air Zones (CAZs), areas where vehicles with high emissions are not allowed to enter unless they pay assigned charges. London’s version of this is the ULEZ or Ultra-Low Emissions Zones, a project of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. 

Post-Dieselgate scandal, car manufacturers have also drawn up several measures that allow them to correct their mistake of using illegal defeat devices. Many of the carmakers involved in the diesel emissions scandal have recalled thousands upon thousands of affected vehicles and had them corrected with engines that follow the right emissions standards.

European cities have also taken action and are preparing for the phase out of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030. Many cities have also started working on realising their zero-emissions campaign by slowly switching to electric vehicles.

Petrol and diesel cars ban

In a survey conducted in 2021, most of Europe’s residents strongly support the phase out of petrol and diesel vehicle sales beginning the year 2030. The poll, which was carried out on behalf of environmental campaigners, had a total of approximately 10,050 respondents from 15 cities (including Budapest, Warsaw, and London).

Of the total respondents, around 63% expressed their support for selling only emissions-free vehicles in Europe after 2030. Only 29% of the over 10,000 surveyed said they did not support the end of petrol and diesel vehicle sales. Around 8% of the respondents were undecided.

Transport & Environment’s Julia Poliscanova shared that residents of cities are the ones who are most exposed to high levels of toxic air pollution, which is why they strongly oppose the selling of internal combustion engines. They do not want to delay the ban any longer.

The European Union has promised to come up with clearer and stricter emissions limits for vehicles and an expansion of the electric charging infrastructure. 

In June 2022, the European Parliament voted to stop the use of combustion engines by the year 2035, a decision that is in line with the European Union’s fleet-wide goal of reducing toxic emissions coming from new light commercial vehicles and passenger cars. 

How do defeat devices fit into the equation?

Defeat devices play an important role in the emissions story, especially in the UK and Europe. These devices were what government and environmental authorities found in diesel engines of popular carmakers such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, and BMW. 

A defeat device is illegal because it is programmed to detect when a vehicle is in the lab for an emissions test. As testing starts, the device artificially reduces emissions levels to within the limits that the World Health Organization set. When driven in real-world road conditions though, the vehicle emits extremely high levels of nitrogen oxides – in amounts that are multiple times over the EU and WHO limit. 

Thus, vehicles with defeat devices are dirty and toxic. They are highly polluting and endanger the environment and human health. 

What does nitrogen oxide do?

Nitrogen oxide or NOx, the gas that diesel vehicles emit, has nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as its main components. When it reacts with some compounds, NOx forms acid rain and smog, which highly pollute the environment.

NOx also creates ground-level ozone, which can harm vegetation by stunting the growth of plants and crops. Vegetation also becomes more susceptible to frost and damage. 

Exposure to nitrogen oxide can significantly impact a person’s health. Some of its effects include headaches, breathing problems, bronchitis, emphysema, and other respiratory issues. Serious cases can lead to increased risks for cardiovascular diseases and cancer, chronic lung problems, asphyxiation, laryngospasm, and premature death.

Car owners whose vehicles were fitted with defeat devices are encouraged to file an emissions claim against their manufacturers. The action is one way of holding carmakers responsible for the devastating effects of diesel emissions. It will also allow affected car owners to receive compensation for the inconvenience and stress their carmaker caused them by mis-selling polluting vehicles.

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