Are we at a clean air tipping point after a major vote this week?

Clean car technologies won the backing of the European Parliament today. It voted for stricter car pollution controls from 2021, rules that could prove a tipping point away from oil-based vehicles.

European governments will agree their own position on the fuel efficiency standards on Tuesday next week. Governments are traditionally more conservative than parliament and subject to fierce lobbying by domestic industries. Carmakers have a long track history of dragging their feet on EU standards. Crucial will be the position of Germany, where carmakers and government are said to have already cut a deal that betrays consumers and the environment.

Ministers will factor in growing public concern about air pollution in cities, often from vehicles. Bad air is the single biggest environmental risk to health in Europe, according to a recent report by the European Court of Auditors, which slammed government failure to protect citizens. Brussels is suing a ‘toxic bloc‘ over poor air quality.

A hard-hitting video was launched across Europe yesterday by health groups keen to see cars made less polluting. Their call was echoed by environmental and consumer groups.


A graphic video released by health groups visualises the health effects of diesel exhaust 

Parliament today voted for a 20% cut in CO2 emissions from new cars and vans in 2025 and a 40% reduction in 2030. The deal was welcomed by green groups, but was slated as ‘not enough‘ to meet Europe’s commitments under the Paris accord.

Parliament also wants real world testing of vehicle emissions following the Dieselgate scandal, which saw all carmakers bend the rules, and some install software to cheat the tests. The number of grossly-polluting diesel cars and vans on our roads has increased by 5 million since last year and is up 14 million on when the Dieselgate cheating was exposed on this day three years ago, green groups say.