Britain has thrown its weight behind European Union countries seeking to allow cars with gasoline engines to emit half again as many toxic particulates as the union’s existing regulations permit.
“EU caves in to auto industry pressure for weak emissions limits,” The Guardian reports, citing internal documents it said showed that “vehicle makers have pushed strongly for [new regulations allowing] a staggering 300% over” the existing limit.
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While not going quite that far, the paper states, a new rule has been drafted with the support of “the UK and most other EU states” that would allow car manufacturers “to overshoot a limit on toxic particulates emissions by 50%.” The exemption permits companies selling new cars in Europe to forego adding a filter that “could drastically cut the pollution,” but would add about €25 ($36) to the cost of each vehicle.
Those emissions, The Guardian notes, are “the largest single contributor to the estimated 600,000 premature deaths across Europe from pollution-related heart and lung diseases each year. Children and the elderly are worst affected, and the associated health costs could be as high as €1.6 trillion a year in Europe, according to the World Health Organization.”
“With this ridiculous proposal, the EU’s member states are again trying to dilute EU laws at a terrible cost to human health,” charged Bas Eickhout, a Green MEP on the EU’s environment committee. “We will call on the European commission to come to the European Parliament and explain themselves on this issue.”
Last year, the same committee approved a limit on nitrogen oxide (NOx) that was more than twice the limit set by EU law. In August, a French inquiry found that emission from many automakers’ diesel vehicles exceeded regulatory limits and their manufacturers’ own claimed performance.
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