Increase In Number Of Diesel Cars Is Counterproductive For Environmental Goals

November 18, 1998

New diesel cars are more detrimental to the environment and to health than new petrol-driven cars. Diesel cars have improved considerably over the last ten years, but exhaust emission control technology in petrol-driven cars has developed faster. This is the result of a study commissioned by the Swedish government and performed by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

"Diesel cars emit much greater amounts of nitrogen oxides, particulates and carcinogenic substances than new petrol-driven cars. The current trend in increased sales of diesel cars is actually jeopardising our chances of achieving the environmental goals for cleaner air and reduced acidification and eutrophication", says Reino Abrahamsson at the Swedish EPA.

"For the sake of the environment, it is better if car buyers choose a fuel-efficient environmentally classified petrol-driven car rather than a diesel", he adds.

The rising proportion of diesels among newly sold cars will cause a considerable increase in nitrogen oxide emissions, ascertains the Swedish EPA. The study shows that if diesel car sales rise from 1 to 20 per cent, emissions of nitrogen oxides from new cars will double and particulate emissions will be 2? times higher. Nitrogen oxide emissions contribute to the acidification of our lakes and soil and to the eutrophication of coastal waters.

Diesels use 20 to 25 per cent less fuel. When they are advertised, great stress is put on this fact as being very positive for the environment as it helps to combat global warming. However, since combusting one litre of diesel oil produces about 15 per cent more carbon dioxide than one litre of petrol, emissions of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, are only negligibly less from diesel cars. An increase in diesel car sales from 1 to 20 per cent reduces carbon dioxide emissions by a mere 1-2 per cent.

In terms of cancer risk, negative effects on respiratory passages and acute health problems, a modern petrol-driven car has the least negative impact on our health. Emissions from new diesel cars are estimated to be 3-4 times more carcinogenic than emissions from petrol cars. A modern diesel also emits about 10-15 times more particulates than a modern petrol car. New diesels are however much better than older ones.

The calculation that the Swedish EPA has done concerning the environmental costs to society of exhaust fumes from cars suggests that the costs for new diesels is about 2 Swedish kronor (SEK) per litre of diesel. On the other hand, it is estimated that exhaust fumes from new petrol-driven cars cost about 1 krona per litre of petrol.

"To help achieve the environmental goals, we should reduce the number of diesel cars. The current trend is going in completely opposite direction. Using diesel cars instead of petrol-driven cars is not an effective way of combating climate change", stresses Reino Abrahamsson.

15 per cent of newly registered private cars in August this year were diesels. At the beginning of the nineties, the proportion of newly registered cars that were diesels was only 1 per cent.

For further information, please contact:
Reino Abrahamsson, +46 8 698 1196. E-mail: reino.abrahamsson@environ.se

Press office:
Anna Bonta-Anger, +46 8 698 1084, Anna-Bonta-Anger@environ.se
Suzanne Kolare, +46 8 698 1697, Suzanne.Kolare@environ.se
-end-


Swedish Environmental Protection Agency

Related Nitrogen Articles from Brightsurf:

Chemistry: How nitrogen is transferred by a catalyst
Catalysts with a metal-nitrogen bond can transfer nitrogen to organic molecules.

Illinois research links soil nitrogen levels to corn yield and nitrogen losses
What exactly is the relationship between soil nitrogen, corn yield, and nitrogen loss?

Reducing nitrogen with boron and beer
The industrial conversion of nitrogen to ammonium provides fertiliser for agriculture.

New nitrogen products are in the air
A nifty move with nitrogen has brought the world one step closer to creating a range of useful products -- from dyes to pharmaceuticals -- out of thin air.

'Black nitrogen'
In the periodic table of elements there is one golden rule for carbon, oxygen, and other light elements.

A deep dive into better understanding nitrogen impacts
This special issue presents a selection of 13 papers that advance our understanding of cascading consequences of reactive nitrogen species along their emission, transport, deposition, and the impacts in the atmosphere.

How does an increase in nitrogen application affect grasslands?
The 'PaNDiv' experiment, established by researchers of the University of Bern on a 3000 m2 field site, is the largest biodiversity-ecosystem functioning experiment in Switzerland and aims to better understand how increases in nitrogen affect grasslands.

Reducing reliance on nitrogen fertilizers with biological nitrogen fixation
Crop yields have increased substantially over the past decades, occurring alongside the increasing use of nitrogen fertilizer.

Flushing nitrogen from seawater-based toilets
With about half the world's population living close to the coast, using seawater to flush toilets could be possible with a salt-tolerant bacterium.

We must wake up to devastating impact of nitrogen, say scientists
More than 150 top international scientists are calling on the world to take urgent action on nitrogen pollution, to tackle the widespread harm it is causing to humans, wildlife and the planet.

Read More: Nitrogen News and Nitrogen Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.