Diesel is bad for air quality. No shit.

It has recently dawned on policy makers that our adoption of diesel engines has meant a higher level of pollution in our cities, notably London. I have spoken before about my hatred of the CO2 measure which never really took hold of the environmental issue combustion engines cause, and as such allowed government to sidestep the issue of really tackling pollution. Now I am not talking about climate change, for which the debate can continue to go on (if this summer is anything to go by…), but to pollute the very air we breathe makes no sense to me. I am a lover of anything with an engine but I am also a great believer in progression and technology and believe that as we advance our air should get better, not worse.

The problem with current policy is that is has focused billions and billions of euros into engine and car research and development centred around a fuel, diesel, which is inherently dirty and poisonous. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate petrol is not water, but with a number of other toxins prevalent in diesel fuels the race for lower CO2 measures has only meant our air has got worse, not better.

In London with the world’s largest bus fleet and thousands of decrepit taxis (and I am talking about the new ones…) the air is noticeably bad. Real investment and work needs to happen over the next few years to make any significant impact, but with new buses even today being purchased which are standard diesels there is a long way to go. I have a good measure on London’s air quality which is the balcony of my flat. If I don’t clean it every week I can be sure of a thick layer of very fine black soot – which is so fine it is difficult to capture. This has been getting progressively worse.

One comparison I can give is that of the air in New York. Now I appreciate the Americans are not one for reduction and that there are high levels of emissions in the city, however if you go there the air feels and smells fresher. A result I am sure of the reduction in diesel engines and all the particulates they generate.

At least it means for me I am going to have to help and do my part by buying more petrol cars.

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