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Environment

Over Half of British Drivers Want Diesel Cars Banned From Cities


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The UN’s Global Goals include action on curbing climate change, and creating cities and communities that are sustainable. This includes paying special attention to air quality. Nevertheless, most urban areas in the UK have had illegally high levels of nitrogen oxide since 2010. You can join us by taking action in support of the Global Goals here

New figures have been released this week by the UK government that show air pollution can be linked to between 28,000 and 36,000 early deaths in Britain every year. 

And rising concern about air pollution is sparking a crackdown on diesel vehicles. 

More than half of British motorists now want diesel cars to be banned from cities and urban areas across the UK, according to a new opinion poll. Nearly a third — 29% — think diesel cars should be completely banned from all roads, the poll found, and 23% think they should be banned only in built-up areas. 

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That rises to 79% when people were asked if they agreed that diesel cars should be banned from areas around schools and hospitals. 

The opinion poll also found that 70% of drivers believe exhaust fumes in their neighbourhoods were damaging their health. 

“Diesel cars have been fuelling a major air pollution crisis that has made our cities’ air toxic and harmful to breathe,” said Morten Thayson, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace. “We need a rapid switch to electric by the car industry to help clean up our air and protect our climate.” 

Some 2,000 people responded to the online poll by Censuswide, commissioned by law firm Slater and Gordon, which is reportedly representing 45,000 motorists in a group-action lawsuit against Volkswagen. 

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The vehicle manufacturer was embroiled in the “dieselgate” scandal of 2015, when it was found to have been fitting vehicles with “defeat devices” to give inaccurate readings in emissions tests. 

While the company has now paid out billions of dollars in compensation around the world, UK motorists have yet to receive any, according to the Guardian

Since 2010, the majority of urban areas in Britain have had illegally high levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) — which is emitted in greater amounts by diesel vehicles than by petrol vehicles. 

The government announced in July 2017 that it would be banning all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, as part of a £3 billion plan to tackle air pollution. 

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Nevertheless, the UK was threatened with fines and legal action by the European Union in May, prompting the government to release a new plan less than a week later in an effort to reduce pollution throughout the country. 

The plans include action like reducing the number of people living in cities with high levels of pollution; cutting out the use of fuels and stoves for household heat; and tackling ammonia pollution by getting farmers to buy efficient equipment. 

The plan has faced criticism for failing to meaningfully tackle pollution from transportation. But the escalating national conversation around air pollution has reportedly prompted a fall in sales of diesel vehicles of 30% so far in 2018. 

“Motorists wanted cars which were clean, green, and efficient and are now starting to realise they were sold a lie and their cars don’t live up to the promise,” said Gareth Pope, head of group litigation at Slater and Gordon. 

“This survey has shown that the VW emissions scandal, and revelations about what lengths the manufacturer went to cheat clean air tests, has had a hugely negative impact on the entire industry,” he said. 

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Doctors and Greenpeace activists launched an anti-diesel campaign stunt in Milton Keynes earlier this month, setting up “sick bays” outside the VW offices and blocking 800 staff from getting to work.

Greenpeace is calling on VW to go 100% electric, and the protest ended on Aug. 20 with VW agreeing to a meeting with the organisation. 

A spokesperson for VW told the Guardian at the time of the Greenpeace demonstration that the company “had launched the most comprehensive electrification initiative in the automotive industry, Roadmap E.” 

The plan, announced in September 2017, would include bringing 80 new electric vehicle models to its range by 2025. 

“Roadmap E brings a 20 billion euro investment to electric vehicle technology with the goal of 25% of Volkswagen Group vehicle production comprising electrified vehicles by 2025, and 50% by 2030,” the spokesperson added.