To reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions, successive governments have encouraged motorists to use diesel vehicles over petrol vehicles by offering lower annual tax costs depending on Carbon Dioxide levels. But a recent study conducted by Transport and Environment(T&E) claims to have found evidence that suggests otherwise. Diesel cars may actually be producing more Carbon Dioxide emissions in their lifecycle. There are a number of factors responsible for this, but one of the major factors is the biofuel mixed with the diesel.
Diesel car owners are already facing toxin taxes due to higher Nitrogen Oxide emissions and are worried about the loss of value of their cars. Around two-thirds of the diesel car owners believe that since they have to replace their cars as they are out-of-favour, they should be given money to help them with the same.
T&E compared the process of production of fuel and its usage of both petrol and diesel. They found that over its lifecycle, the Carbon Dioxide emitted by diesel cars is 3.65 tonnes more than that emitted by petrol cars. The result is based on a variety of factors. Typically, around 5% of the full tank of diesel cars is filled with biodiesel and this biodiesel is the leading cause of higher emissions. So what is this biodiesel made up of? Crops like soy, palm, and rapeseed are used to produce biodiesel. The cultivation of these crops is leading to deforestation outside Europe as forests are being cleared to be converted to farmland. This is itself is leading to higher Carbon Dioxide emissions. Therefore, compared to diesel, biodiesel produces around 60% more Carbon Dioxide.
Apart from the emission caused by the production of fuels, there are other factors also that contribute to the higher emissions by diesel vehicles. The process of refining diesel consumes more energy when compared to that of petrol. The engines in diesel cars are more complex and heavier. This means that more raw materials are used in the production of diesel engines. And last but not the least, since diesel is cheaper, it is driven more and therefore has longer mileage.
Diesel cars cost around 2000 to 3000 euros more than their petrol counterparts. This higher price was justified by carmakers who argued that diesel cars cause lower emissions. Carmakers also argued that diesel cars helped them reach their climate target. These claims have, however, been proved baseless now as the new study shows otherwise.
T&E says that as it has already been proven diesel cars emit higher levels of toxic Nitrogen Oxide and now since it has been proven that they don’t help meet the Carbon Dioxide targets set for cars, it is time to retire diesel cars. The toxic Nitrogen Oxide emission is the cause of death of around 68,000 Europeans in a year, claim T&E. They advocate the use of cleaner cars running on electricity instead of diesel or petrol. T&E calls for EU-wide coordinated efforts to ensure that diesel cars don’t continue to cause air pollution. They also call upon carmakers to help clean up the pollution that has mainly been caused by them.
This latest report has caused more anxiety for owners of diesel cars who will feel the consequences of the negative coverage for diesel financially.