In parliament

24th November 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Business & Industry ,
  • Manufacturing ,
  • Transport ,
  • Politics & Economics ,
  • EU


Eddie Orchard

The UK voted to weaken new EU NOx emissions tests, Catherine Bearder reveals.

The widespread use of defeat devices by Volkswagen has led to thousands more tonnes of deadly pollution being emitted. This is a wake-up call to us all. We have to fix the much broader problem of diesel emissions in our towns and cities. A recent government study found that nitrogen oxides (NOx), largely emitted by diesel vehicles, are responsible for 23,500 early deaths in the UK each year. This is a public health crisis on a massive scale that has been ignored for far too long.

Yet, at a technical meeting at the end of October, EU governments agreed to double the legal limit for diesel emissions for the new, stricter testing regime that will come into force in 2017. The point of the proposed real driving emissions (RDE) tests is to reflect actual emissions on the road and prevent carmakers optimising conditions in laboratory tests. This should preclude the absurd situation in which some diesel cars emit up to six times more pollution than the legal limit when on the road but can still pass tests in the lab.

But, although the new tests should lead to an overall reduction in diesel emissions, cars will still be permitted to belch out twice the amount of pollutants they were supposed to under current limits. Worse, the stricter tests will not apply to all cars until 2019, and even from 2021 diesel cars will be able to emit 50% more NOx than under current rules. The car industry has known since 2007 that this more exacting testing regime was on the way. The technology to reduce diesel emissions is available and affordable.

The technical committee's decision was taken behind closed doors. I put in a freedom of information request to clarify what position the UK had taken. The reply was remarkably candid, admitting that the UK government had voted in favour of delaying and watering down these new tests to cut deadly diesel emissions.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Fake news

Disinformation about the impossibility of averting the climate crisis is part of an alarming turn in denialist tactics, writes David Burrows

6th June 2024

Read more

Rivers and waterways across England and Wales are increasingly polluted by sewage spills. What is causing the crisis and what is being done to tackle it? Huw Morris reports

31st May 2024

Read more

In January, the Welsh government consulted on a proposed white paper, 'Securing a Sustainable Future: Environmental Principles, Governance and Biodiversity Targets for a Greener Wales'.

31st May 2024

Read more

Gillian Gibson calls for urgent action to avoid environmental tipping points

20th May 2024

Read more

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close