Four major cities to ban use of diesel vehicles in bid to improve air quality

The leaders of four major cities have said they will ban the use of all diesel- powered cars and trucks by the middle of the next decade in a bid to improve air quality.

The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid, and Athens also said they will give incentives for alternative vehicle use and promote walking and cycling in their cities.

The commitments were made in Mexico at a biennial C40 meeting of city leaders, a network of cities that are committed to addressing climate change.

The use of diesel in transport has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, particularly in light of the recent rigging of diesel emission tests by German car-maker Volkswagen.

The growth in the use of diesel for cars in Europe began after the Kyoto protocol climate change agreement in 1997 which obliged most rich nations to reduce CO2 emissions.

German car-makers BMW, Volkswagen, and Daimler persuaded the European Commission that a switch to diesel would be a fast way to reduce carbon emissions.

However, while diesel is less harmful to the environment, it is far deadlier to humans. Diesel produces less emissions than petrol but emits four times more nitrogen dioxide pollution and 22 times more particulates — the tiny particles that penetrate the lungs, heart, and brain.

The policy change is particularly evident in Ireland, where drivers of diesel-powered cars enjoy cheaper road tax and fuel.

The tax policy operated by the Department of Transport is based solely on CO2 emissions on cars less than eight years old.

In Ireland, diesel vehicles now account for 71% of all new sales.


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