CO2 emissions in the UK have risen due to the death of diesel cars which has taken place over the past few years, starting in 2015 after the VW scandal was broke. The death of diesel cars came as a result of the growing concern with how much harmful emissions the older vehicles produced. Back in 2001, the Government at the time encouraged and incentivised motorists to purchase diesel cars. Now, new diesel cars are being tarnished and slapped with fees, such as higher car tax rates, to deter drivers from buying them. As a result, sales of diesel cars have nosedived significantly over the past year, with the month of September seeing a reported 43 per cent decline in new car registrations since the same month in 2017.
This is not only bad for carmakers but it is also having a detrimental effect on CO2 emissions in the UK, which was one of the main thrusts of the push towards diesel was cutting CO2 levels.
The average carbon dioxide output of all new models in September 2018 were 128.3 grams per kilometre which is the highest the figure has been since July 2013 (128.7g/km).
Cars that produce higher levels of CO2 emissions also pay more tax in the UK as the system is based on how much carbon emissions a car emits. This could see the average costs for drivers increase.
However, older diesel cars still need to be removed from the roads in the UK due to the harmful amount of NOX and particulates they emit.
Most motorists that would’ve been diesel cars buyers bough petrol instead which has caused the figure to spike. In addition to this, the more realistic WLTP test cycle emissions results are also reflecting a change.
Death of diesel cars has caused CO2 emissions to rise in the UK
Earlier this month research from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) found that new diesel cars performed well below the NOx threshold of the real driving emissions (RDE) test.
In addition to the low NOx output, they also typically emit less CO2 emissions than petrol equivalents.
Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General, said: “These new findings prove that modern diesel cars, supported by fleet renewal policies and combined with alternative powertrains, will play a strong role in helping cities move towards compliance with air quality targets.
“In parallel, diesel vehicles will continue to remain important for reducing CO2 emissions in the short and medium term, even though all manufacturers are expanding their offer of electrically-chargeable cars.”
Jonnaert added: “Auto makers have made major investments to quickly deliver these massive reductions in NOx emissions.
Petrol cars typically emit more CO2 emissions than diesel cars
“It is important that we stop demonising diesel technology as a whole. Instead, we need to differentiate between the old diesel fleet and the latest generation of vehicles.”
Similarly, petrol cars, which typically emit more CO2 than a diesel, registrations increased by seven per cent over the past year.
New data found that newly-registered car CO2 outputs in September were almost eight per cent higher than the record lows posted in August 2016.
As a result, annual CO2 emissions levels could rise for the second consecutive year.
CO2 emissions are at the highest level they have been at for five years
It as revealed earlier this year that CO2 emissions levels have risen for the first time in 14 years in 2017.
Average CO2 emissions rose from 120.1g/km in 2016 to 121.0g/km in 2017, reported the SMMT.
In addition to this, the prevalence of SUVs is also causing a rise in CO2 emissions as these types of cars are usually a little more thirsty than hatchbacks or city cars.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive said at the time: “The industry shares government’s vision of a low carbon future and is investing to get us there – but we can’t do it overnight; nor can we do it alone.
“The anti-diesel agenda has set back progress on climate change, while electric vehicle demand remains disappointingly low amid consumer concerns around charging infrastructure availability and affordability.”
“A consistent approach to incentives and tax, and greater investment in charging infrastructure will be critical.
“Now, more than ever, we need a strategy that allows manufacturers time to invest, innovate and sell competitively, and which gives consumers every incentive to adapt.”
Spencer Dale, the group’s chief economist, said at the time that the rise in emissions was “slightly worrying” and a “pretty big backward step.”
“It suggests to me we are not on a path to the Paris climate goals,” he added.
“I am more worried by the lack of progress in the power sector over the past 20 years, than by the pickup in carbon emissions last year.”
With this being the case, Government authorities could bring in new regulations or charges in the UK to aggressively meet the CO2 targets set out in the Paris climate deal.
Cars that emit high levels of CO2 emissions could face a ban or new charges could be put into place to act as deterrents away from these types of cars.
This paves the way nicely for low emissions electric and hybrid cars sales to accelerate.
However, the Government slashed the incentives for hybrid and electric cars last month, ditching the plug-in hybrid grant entirely and knocking £1,000 off the EV grant.