Labour MEP says new European law should avoid a second Dieselgate

Five years since Dieselgate and the leniency afforded to car manufacturers remains there, at the detriment of people’s health, says Labour MEP Miriam Dalli

European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) is the process used to ensure that motor vehicles intended to be placed on the market for consumers meet relevant environmental, safety and security standards
European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) is the process used to ensure that motor vehicles intended to be placed on the market for consumers meet relevant environmental, safety and security standards

Work carried out by a Maltese MEP is helping close the loopholes that allow car manufacturers to exceed emission limits.

Labour MEP Miriam Dalli, S&D Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said that five years had elapsed since Dieselgate, the emissions scandal on VW cars, car manufacturers were still being afforded leniency to the detriment of people’s health.

“This leniency allows manufacturers to produce cars that emit more when driven than what is declared during laboratory testing. Citizens don’t want cars that emit more emissions on the road. With my work I wanted to ascertain that this discrepancy is addressed,” Dalli said.

Dalli was reacting to the vote of the European Parliament on the Type Approval Regulation which addresses real driving emissions of which she was rapporteur on behalf of the S&D. The result was achieved following months of negotiations between the political groups, with the S&D pushing for stricter conditions.

“The technology exists and we should be focusing on utilising it for the benefit of citizens and consumers. It makes no sense to set limits in legislation but then let industries go beyond such limits. That’s why we took a strong position on what citizens expect from us to protect their health,” Dalli said.

The 2019 Air Quality Report by the European Environment Agency shows that air pollution led to more than half a million premature deaths in 2016 and is the number one environmental cause of premature deaths in the EU. Passenger cars produce 40% of total EU NOx emissions.

On Thursday, the European Parliament voted in favour of eliminating the discrepancies between what vehicles emit in laboratory and what they actually emit on the road. Back in 2015, the Dieselgate scandal revealed how cars on the road were polluting way beyond what they were declaring. This meant that some car manufacturers fraudulently cheated on the tests that declared what each vehicle emits.

The European Parliament and citizens asked the European Commission to rectify the situation. However, faced with the pressure from the car industry lobby, the European Commission introduced conformity factors allowing certain vehicles to pollute more than they should. This meant that there are cars are still emitting 168mg/km of NOx instead of the legal 80mg per km.

As from September 2022, the European Parliament wants cars to meet EU limits on NOx emissions, to comply with air pollution limits. This position was adopted with 485 votes to 169 and 42 abstentions.

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