Air quality has become a both an environmental and political issue in recent years. While it the air we breathe affects us all, it has been used as a political tool by parties, countries, and corporations alike.
The latest trade in the firing line is the car industry as allegations surface surrounding their use of potentially illegal software to mask their diesel emissions. Volkswagen were the first to fall foul of the issue in 2015 when the dieselgate scandal hit headlines across the globe.
After numerous court cases, Volkswagen eventually admitted to installing “defeat devices” into their vehicles in order to cheat emissions tests. This affected 8.5 million cars worldwide, with 1.2 million being present in the UK.
Now there are indications that many more manufacturers could have installed the illegal device, which means that millions of UK vehicles could have been polluting the environment with dangerous pollutant called NOx.
If the manufacturers admit any wrongdoing, we could potentially see millions being paid out in compensation to UK vehicles owners, similar to the 2015 scandal in which Volkswagen were hit with $33 billion bill.
What is NOx?
The dieselgate scandal focusses on one pollutant in particular called Nitrogen Oxide, or NOx. This is a nasty gas which has been known to contribute to various illnesses including respiratory diseases, cancer, acid rain and smog.
In actual fact, it is a family of highly reactive gases, and the main contributor to the release of the gases into our air is diesel vehicles on the road. Figures suggest that the diesel vehicles in question could produce anywhere between 237,000-948,000 tonnes of NOx emissions every year. For comparison, a UK power station, Drax, emits 39,000 tonnes of NOx every year.
In addition to this, a study produced by Environmental Health Analytics in 2017 actually showed that excess NOx in our air was responsible for 38,000 deaths worldwide. The majority of these deaths were centred around Europe, where historically the emphasis for regulation has been on limiting CO2 emissions rather than NOx.
The Effect on Air Quality in the UK
The figures for how this scandal could have affected UK air do not make for pretty reading. There are approximately ten million “euro5” and “euro6” type diesel cars on the road in the UK currently.
Studies have shown that nearly all of these diesel vehicles will be breaking regulatory rules in relation to NOx emissions. Car manufacturers have gotten around these rules by using so-called “defeat devices” in laboratory testing. Some real-world emission tests on the road actually show that the car is emitted twenty times more than the NOx regulatory limit.
This means that experts can estimate that over the past thirteen years, around 500,000 tonnes of excess NOx has been pumped into the UK environment. This significantly reduces air quality, creates smog, causes acid rain and fundamentally shortens lives.
What is a Defeat Device?
Car manufacturers have gotten away with this scandal by inserting “defeat devices” into their vehicles. This is a little bit of software that recognises when the vehicle is being tested.
If the right conditions are met during the lab test, the car enters an emission-reducing mode, unknown to the regulators. This means that the car passes the regulatory NOx tests, because of the defeat device.
When the car is on the road, however, the defeat device is turned off. This means that the emissions of that car can be significantly higher.
How do I know if my vehicle has been affected?
Diesel emission claims experts, emissions.co.uk, are asking UK diesel vehicle owners to check if their car has been affected. The panel of emissions solicitors are looking to hold car manufacturers to account for their potential lie, and also gain customers some deserved compensation if they have been lied to and misled. This would form part of a mis-selling claim.
The diesel emission compensation experts have a free-to-use eligibility checker that can tell you if your car has been affected by the dieselgate scandal in a matter of minutes. Find out today if you can claim.