The Demise of Diesel

According to a landmark new study, 3.3 million people are killed by air pollution every year – more than HIV, malaria, and influenza combined. And emissions from diesel engines are among the worst offenders. This has come a long way since the mindset exhibited in Audi’s Super Bowl ‘Green Police‘ ad in 2010 where cars running on diesel fuel could be driven with a clear conscious. In the past, diesel was viewed as a green option where drivers could be cost-efficient and environmentally friendly at the same time. We were all told that by using diesel-fueled cars we could cut our CO2 emissions in half thus, transitioning into eco-friendly period.

However, that “period” only lasted about two years. In 2012, evidence came forward that the Nitrogen oxides and dioxides and particulate matter emitted by diesel exhausts were the new silent killers. After that the studies and evidence produced grew exponentially. The European Environment Agency found that the nitrogen dioxide from diesel fuels were responsible for around 71,000 premature deaths across Europe in one year. The World Health Organization declared diesel exhaust a cause of lung cancer and placed it in the same category as asbestos and mustard gas. The final nail in the coffin came in 2015 when Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest car companies and heavy promoter of “clean diesel”, came forward admitting that they had cheated on their emission tests. In early April of this year, David King, the UK government’s former chief scientific advisor on climate change, admitted that officials had trusted the car industry and had made a huge mistake promoting diesel. Cities around the globe have been clamored for a solution. Diesel vehicles have been outlawed in Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City, and London has proposed low-emission zones and toll charges.

A poll created by YouGov last year found that 52% of Londoners and 54% of Parisians would support a ban on diesel. This will probably be how diesel cars will cease to exist. Not by bans, regulations, or legislations, but my societal disgust. Since Volkswagan’s announcement, dealers are expecting a global decrease in sales as consumers avoid diesel cars and manufactures invest less.