The Clean Diesel Myth


Well who’d a thunk it? Diesel was supposed to be the Great Green Hope. At least it seemed that way at the turn of the century, when our then Magnificent Leader (currently making a few quid here and there having helped to make the Middle East a nicer kinda place) joined with his conniving cabal of continental cronies to tax everyone out of petrol cars because CO2 was, like, so uncool.

Way, way back in the late nineties, in the heady days of Global Warming (remember that, eh, Tyndall Centre?), diesel hardly featured in the automotive sales figures. Then came the terror of CO2. Vehicle-related carbon dioxide was going to suffocate the planet – within about six years, as I recall. Buying wholesale into the myth, the Government ignored the warnings. A solution was required and, as usual, the solution was tax.

Tony and his pals, Gerhard, Jacques et al, would no doubt have heard those industry experts who sensibly cautioned against the proliferation of diesel, but they caved in to pressure from the ever-strident Green Lobby. And here’s where it gets a bit complicated. One would never have thought that the evil motor industry would find consensus with the screeching, save-the-planet simpletons who wish to ban modern life (except for iPhones (obv). And Starbucks), but find it they very much did.

Leaping enthusiastically aboard the envirobollocks bandwagon, Europe’s carmakers found they could easily pull the wool over the eyes of consumers and legislators alike by creating the myth of clean diesel.  Diesel cars, previously rattly, sluggish affairs beloved only of minicab firms, saw rapid development. NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) was dialled out and large turbochargers were added. Working in the industry at the time, I remember being genuinely shocked at the almost-overnight refinement. And yet, good as they were, they still burned diesel.

It didn’t take long for fleet companies to realise that heavy oil attracted much lower penalties. The news trickled down to the car-buying public and the switch began in earnest.  Without boring everyone with figures, sales of oil-burning cars absolutely rocketed. And so what if air quality drastically worsened in our towns and cities? A few thousand premature deaths from asthma-related conditions didn’t matter – there were bloody polar bears to save.

Clean diesel, of course, does not exist. It seems the noxious fumes belched by all these marketing-dream tailpipes are far more injurious than those of the petrol-driven family hatchbacks they replaced en masse. And now it’s coming home to roost. This time, our cars really are poisoning us.

Why on earth does anyone still listen to the Greens? This constant ‘we told you so’ is getting very boring:

The Green Lobby prevented Shell from disposing of the Brent Spar oil rig in a Norwegian fjord. It was wrong about that.

The Green Lobby insisted councils implemented, at huge cost, extensive recycling schemes. Criminality has burgeoned throughout the waste industry.

Today ‘waste management’ plants burst into flames at an alarming rate, their columns of acrid smoke towering high into the sky, spewing carcinogens for miles around.  It was wrong about that.

The Green Lobby campaigned against nuclear energy (somehow managing to conflate nuclear power with nuclear arms in the collective conscious of a frightened 1980s public). Renewable energy has utterly failed to deliver, putting thousands of lives at risk from the cold each winter. The Green movement got that one wrong too.

And now the cars they made us buy are killing us. Some time ago an article in what remains of The Independent – The Independent for God’s sake, bastion of the conscientiously Right-on – reported claims that 51000 people might have died prematurely from respiratory problems caused by diesel pollution. This morning the BBC brings us the news that the mayors of Paris, Athens, Mexico City and Madrid are planning to ban diesel from their cities by the middle of next decade. Could the aforementioned 51000 represent the iceberg’s tip? We wait to find out.

It has been suggested that environmental activists are ‘watermelons’ – green on the outside but red within, that in reality they are communists. If only. The communist threat receded years ago. These people are far, far more dangerous.

Matthew Corrigan is a Country Squire Guest Writer and a superb author whose excellent novel OSPREY shines a satirical light on a dodgy politician with a flying wind turbine scam. His books can be found here