Is pollution worse from diesel or petrol?

Over half of new cars are now diesel, compared to just 14% in 2000 driven in part by the fact we thought the increased fuel efficiency would be better for the climate.

It is harder to control pollution from diesels than from petrol, and for this reason, European standards for diesel exhaust have not been as strict as those from petrol cars. Access to low emission zones in Germany reflect the difference in pollution emissions with open access being permitted for petrol cars made after 1993 but only for the most modern diesels. It is also becoming clear that the technologies to control some types of pollution from diesels are not effective during real-world driving.

The air pollution penalty from diesel cars is often justified in terms of the saving in CO2 emissions compared with petrol. However, new analysis is calling this orthodox view into question. If climate warming emissions of black soot are considered along with the difficulties of producing sufficient diesel to meet demand, then the climate change benefits from diesel largely disappear and maybe Governments will look to change this trend to diesel engines – we’ll keep you posted!

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