Diesel decline raising emissions

THE war on diesel is having unintended consequences with CO2 emissions from cars up for the first time in 14 years.

This is because of rising petrol car sales. Department for Transport figures uncovered by buyacar.co.uk, an online car retailer, show that the average new car sold in 2017 produces more CO2 than one sold in 2016, reversing a continuous decline in emissions of the greenhouse gas since the figures were first published by the government in 2003.

Industry figures attributed the rise to the slump in sales of diesel cars which are generally more efficient, and produce less CO2, than an equivalent petrol model. After recent tax rises, the threat of widespread inner city charges for older diesel cars and new findings about the harmful effects of fumes diesel sales have declined by 16% so far this year.

Austin Collins, managing director of buyacar.co.uk, said, ‘Many customers now tell us that they’re avoiding diesel even if it means spending more on fuel. Although switching to petrol makes good financial sense for some, especially with plenty of economical petrol, hybrid or electric cars available, diesel’s fuel economy still makes it a good option for long-distance drivers or SUV buyers at the moment.’

Although sales of new electric and hybrid cars have increased by 35% this year, this only represents an extra 28,611 cars compared with 2016. The number of new diesel cars sold has fallen by more than 190,000.

Tamzen Isacsson, director of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said, ‘If industry is to meet challenging CO2 targets getting more of the latest low emission diesels onto our roads is crucial, as they can emit 20% less CO2 than the equivalent petrol models. If new diesel car registrations continue on this negative trend, UK average new car CO2 levels could indeed rise this year.’

A Department for Transport spokesman said, ‘We will seek to maintain ambitious targets and our leadership position, and intervening firmly if not enough progress is being made. Our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy includes investing nearly £1.5bn in accelerating the roll-out of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020 – generating business opportunities and leading to cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions.’