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Labour has admitted that the drive by the previous Labour government to encourage millions of drivers to opt for diesel cars to save the planet was “wrong”.
At present, around 10 million motorists across the UK drive diesel cars, many of which were purchased at a time when tax breaks were offered to diesel car owners by Gordon Brown, sparking a new trend.
In 2014, more than half of all new cars sold were diesel. Buyers are attracted to diesel cars because of their lower CO2 emissions and better fuel efficiency.
Barry Gardiner MP, Shadow Minister for the Environment, said: “Hands up, can I say there’s absolutely no question that the decision we took was the wrong decision, but and it is a big but, at that time we didn’t have the evidence that subsequently we did have and we had cleaner diesel engines, which we thought meant that any potential problem was a lower grade problem than the problem we were trying to solve of CO2.”
However, Gardiner argues that after a committee was set up by Labour to demonstrate the medical effects of air pollution in 2010, five years has passed and the present government has done nothing about the committee’s findings.
Alan Andrews, lawyer, ClientEarth, said: “I think people have been conned to some extent. People still think diesel is the green fuel and buying a diesel car they are doing the right thing by the planet. The truth is diesel is a very heavily pollutant fuel certainly from a public health point of view we can’t have dirty diesels in our towns and cities.”
The latest government report on air quality found that legal limits of nitrogen dioxide were exceeded in 40 of Britain’s 43 urban zones. In London, where pollution levels are high, local councils are already pushing back against diesel engines.