Scrappage: The great diesel con

So, it looks like we could be in for another scrappage scheme, according to The Telegraph. Ministers are desperately trying to reduce pollution in key areas, many of which are in London – home of Heathrow Airport…

citroen XM

Diesels were our friends. Not now apparently.

Diesel owners are being blamed for the current woes, which is pretty seriously unfair. The government has been pushing diesels for some time now – cheaper fuel duty and kinder vehicle tax rates. These rates are based on carbon emissions, but it turns out, those aren’t the main problem at all. Now, thousands of motorists are finding that far from having an environmentally friendly car, they in fact have the new evil. Nitrous oxides are the issue, and as manufacturers chased ever lower carbon emissions, it seems they’ve actually made the Nitrous Oxide problem even worse. This has lead to Westminster council hitting diesel owners with a 50% surcharge when it comes to parking permits. People thought they were doing the right thing, and are now being clobbered. Not fair.

The rather panicky solution appears to be to offer another scrappage scheme, encouraging diesel owners to trade in their ‘dirty’ diesels for low emission vehicles. Petrol is cleaner, petrol-hybrids potentially even more so in a city environment, while electric vehicles are best of all – they take the emission issue right out of the city.

Mind you, while buses, trucks and even aeroplanes are still a MASSIVE part of daily life in cities, it seems rather like trying to deflect the grim reaper with a plastic straw. I have a rather well-documented hatred of scrappage schemes too. If the car gets reused afterwards, ie sold elsewhere, then that’s fine. Sure, take them out of the city. We’ll have them in the countryside. It’s fine. If it’s actually a scheme where cars are traded in to actually be scrapped (like the last one), then it’s just utter, utter stupidity. It’s like throwing away your saucepans every time you make a meal. Yes, you save on the emissions generated by creating hot water with which to wash them, but that completely ignores the emissions that come from making and delivering a new saucepan.

I hope we don’t see any incentives at all to be honest. If I lived in or near a city, I’d have an electric car in a heartbeat. What the government should focus on is charge points for these cars, especially for those who lack driveway facilities. Or here’s a thing. If cars are the problem, ban the things entirely! People still need to move around though, so you’re going to have to do something about public transport. A greener Internal Combustion Engine car is still producing emissions after all. It’s not like it’s pumping oxygen and kittens from its exhaust.

Just hitting motorists over the head with new charges, or funding the deliberate scrapping of vehicles that work perfectly well are not the way to improve things. Mind you, I ranted about how stupid scrappage schemes are the last time, and the government still went ahead and did it. Kia and Hyundai were particularly pleased by that one. Rumour has it that there are still cars parked up from that scheme. What a shocking waste.

PS – naturally, given diesel is fast going out of fashion, I’m about to acquire another one. Go me!

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