for more than a decade EU member states have tended to encourage the rise of diesel vehicles, with favourable tax regimes and pricing structures.
This has been one factor in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for road transport, as diesel engines are more fuel-efficient than their petrol counterparts. But it has had an unintended consequence in the form of greater air pollution, because diesel engines spew out more particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide than petrol-driven cars, giving rise to breathing difficulties in vulnerable people, such as children and older citizens.
Failed European environmental policies has led to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths:
Hundreds of thousands of Europeans will suffer a premature death in the next two decades as the result of governments’ failure to act on air pollution, Europe’s environmental watchdog has warned.
In 2011, the latest year for which figures have been reliably collated, more than 400,000 are estimated to have died prematurely as a result of breathing toxic fumes, despite recent improvements in some countries.
A new report just out gives the death figures for one European city, London:
Nearly 10,000 people died in a year as a result of air pollution in London, a study has found.Experts from King's College London combined the effects of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and a particulate matter known as PM2.5 to look at the total impact on the city's health in 2010.
The scientists said combining the pollutants "reveal a higher health impact than previously estimated".