Carmaking countries blocking vehicle checks that would reduce air pollution, documents state
April 25th 2017
Major car-making countries are preventing efforts to strengthen the system of testing vehicles’ emissions, according to official documents and informal minutes seen by Transport & Environment (T&E).
According to the documents, Germany, Italy and Spain, along with Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, have opposed new checks by the European Commission to confirm that cars, once sold, continue to produce acceptable levels of emissions.
Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and air quality manager at T&E, criticised the countries for ignoring the effects of Dieselgate and weakening EU and national regulatory checks on vehicles. There are an estimated 29 million dirty diesel vehicles on European roads at present.
“Countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain object to effective, independent oversight of their work despite overwhelming evidence that they allowed the Dieselgate scandal to happen by failing to adequately check that cars meet the emissions rules,” Ms Poliscanova said.
Volkswagen was found to have cheated emission tests on 11 million cars, including VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat diesel cars built between 2007 and 2015.
These vehicles could potentially emit up to 40 times the amount of permitted pollution. $4.3 billion has been paid in compensation to the US. The UK has yet to reach a deal with the German car manufacturer.
The Environmental Protection Agency in the US has also claimed that Fiat that the company has violated laws with respect to emissions from around 104,000 vehicles. According to German magazine Der Spiegel, regulators for Germany’s transport ministry have reportedly found a similar defeat device in Fiat cars.
Last Ditch Talks
Government officials will meet this week in a final effort to agree on a Council position on reform. Germany, Italy and Spain’s stance contrasts with their European counterparts France, the UK, the Netherlands and Denmark. They have supported meaningful reform of the system of approving cars for sale that has been discredited by the Dieselgate emissions scandal.
Earlier this month, MEPs voted against the establishment of a new watchdog agency which would have checked and tested car emissions.
They did, however, vote for some improved measures, such as granting unrestricted powers for the commission to check cars on the road and backing independent audits of national authorities to ensure emissions rules are enforced properly.
The European Parliament had voted to strengthen type approval – official confirmation from a government or other body that a manufactured item meets required specifications – after its Dieselgate inquiry (EMIS) highlighted national regulators’ failure to enforce existing defeat device rules and check cars rigorously.
“In their upcoming meetings EU governments should follow the European Parliament and support reforms that will ensure cars actually comply with air pollution limits,” Ms Polscanova concluded.
Ms Polscanova added that regulations on both cars and testing authorities at European level would encourage adherence and compliance from the relevant bodies. She said that this would also reduce the number of premature deaths related to high levels of nitrogen dioxide.
More than 70,000 Europeans die prematurely each year from high levels of nitrogen dioxide in cities, according to the European Environment Agency.
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