Is your car really ‘Green’?

4th August, 2010

Nowadays we are all incentivised to go green and ensure we make environmentally responsible decisions when considering our mode of transport. We are constantly being bombarded with messages from the Government that high carbon emissions are causing mass pollution of the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. Manufacturer advertising would also have us believe that a vehicle which emits just 100g of CO2 per/km is cleaner that one that emits 150g/km, but is it really?

It is believed by some, that the focus on CO2 has caused us to take our eye off the ball regards another glaring problem which may be having a more profound affect on our health right now – tailpipe emissions. In London, where air quality is getting worse, Professor Frank Kelly of Kings College London reported in July this year that 50,000 people will die this year from respiratory illnesses cause by poor air quality. It is now estimated that the average life expectancy has been reduced by eight months because of the pollutants we breath.

Alarmingly, it is diesel engines which do some of the worst damage by pumping out particulates which sit in the lungs of children and cause them to under develop and leave them prone to respiratory disease. Whilst regulations such as Euro 6 will help, the European Unions attempt to impose stricter limits on pollutant emissions from light road vehicles, the particulates found in the lungs of some child cases are far smaller than those being regulated against.

To compound all this, there appears to be evidence from industry experts which reveals our focus on CO2 may not necessarily be a clear indication of how clean a car is. This is illustrated in the following example: A petrol 2.5 litre Volvo V70 manual estate emits 201mg/km of non CO2 pollutants. A 1.4 litre Fiat 500 Start Stop, emits a staggering 484mg/km. More than twice the 2.5 litre engine!

So when considering your carbon footprint or planning your corporate responsibility strategy, ensure you look at the vehicles TOTAL emissions and not just the ones which will save you in road tax.

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