Wednesday, 26 July 2017

"High Court judges said [the UK] was failing to meet EU pollution limits"

From the BBC:

New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government has announced.

Ministers have also unveiled a £255m fund to help councils tackle emissions, including the potential for charging zones for the dirtiest vehicles... The timetable for councils to come up with initial plans has been cut from 18 months to eight, with the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) wanting to "inject additional urgency" into the process.

It follows the government being given its own deadline of 31 July after High Court judges said it was failing to meet EU pollution limits.

I thought we are on the way out of the EU, so why did they even take that into consideration?

Also, the government can get away with persecuting smokers because non-smokers are in a significant majority, but the fact is, most households own at least one car; those who don't probably take the bus; and surely everybody buys stuff in shops that was delivered by diesel-powered lorries.


Rich Tee said...

Nowadays I tend to agree with people who say "why do we always have to take the principled lead in everything?"

We're a declining world power, but the people at the top still think we have an empire and should set a civilised example to the rest of the world.

What is China going to do about it, for example?

mombers said...

Mark, the science is pretty clear on this - pollution needs to be cut down unless we're just to accept shortened lives and impaired health. There is plenty tech to make things cleaner. And the most polluted places are the easiest ones to sort out. There's no need for private cars to drive through central London or indeed other major towns and cities - there's a plethora of options by rail or bus, and taxis for those who really, really want to. Cars are very useful in lower density areas of course, where there is much more air per car to dilute the pollution.

@RT nitrous oxide and particulates in China have no effect on us so doesn't really matter what they decide to do.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RT, exactly.

M, "There's no need for private cars to drive through central London or indeed other major towns and cities"

Of course, I agree with that, by all means ban cars from city centres, out as far as zone 2 afaic, but as you say, sparsely populated areas with little public transport are a different thing.

Lola said...

Mombers. N.O. and particulates have largely been sorted by urea injection and DPF. Modern diesels are much cleaner.

If you live in a rural area as I do and have a business in the centre of the local county town public transport just is not viable - and will never be so. The variables are too great and the useage too small. I am at least a miles walk from the nearest bus stop. On top of which I travel to see people quite a bit and as most of them are also in rural areas there is no choice other than my private car (diesel and modern -not a VW :-).

This whole thing is 'virtue signalling' and as MW says we need not implement any of it we can just ignore it (as it seems do other EU nations).

Two more things. It's already been realised that we don't have enough generating capacity to serve all the new leckie cars and battery technology does not currently (pun intended) have the energy density that makes a full leckie fleet viable.

Personally I think that this is the Tories bowing to a nut job single issue pressure group now, and sooner or later, if they can get the Great Repeal Bill through, it will be quietly dropped.

Also whilst we are on the subject of ludicrous EU directives you could also look at the stupidity of MIFID2. Bureaucratic insanity.

Curtis said...

and taxis for those who really, really want to.

How is taking a taxi any better than driving your own car into a city centre? Taxis are more polluting since they drive around all day even when they don't have a fare.

By all means impose a congestion charge or build park and rides to encourage people to use public transport into the centre.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, good points and exactly.

C, ask Mombers what he meant. But if you arrive in a strange town after a long journey with heavy suitcases, it's nice to take a taxi. They are so expensive that useage minises itself. And the government could claw back taxi super-profits with some form of tax.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, The other point is that electric cars are much more expensive that petrol or diesel. More expensive to buy and for sure, fuel vs electricity per mile works out about the same to the user, but two-thirds of petrol is tax i.e. not really a cost at all (the government gets it and can spend it).

Ben Jamin' said...

Blanket bans should only be used as a last resort, because a politicians judgement isn't necessarily the best way of increasing our economic wealth and welfare. That's why we have markets.

No doubt emissions from fossil fuel burning transport have costs. In which case these can be internalised and reduced by taxes on the fuel and taxes on congestion ie road pricing.

Only after these have been fully tried (I'd have thought road pricing would be a good idea even with battery cars) should a ban on ICE cars be considered.

For a start, the costs of changing to a battery economy are enormous. Both in economic and welfare terms. Also the environmental benefits of of such an economy are highly dubious.

And secondly, the announcement of a ban now will stifle the development of alternative hybrid/synthetic fuel technologies that wouldn't require any changes to our existing infrastructure whatsoever.

For example here's a technology that hasn't happened because of hype.

And as far as NOX emissions this

The trouble is when stupid bandwagons get rolling they are very hard to stop.

Ben Jamin' said...

One more thing. On something as important as a prohibition on the selling of hydrocarbon fuelled personal transport shouldn't there be a referendum first?

Bayard said...

Mark, but isn't that extra cost (of electric cars) just "what the market will bear"? Electric cars are generally either subsidised or bought by people who want to prove something, they are not run-of-the-mill transport yet.

AFAICS, the short term future has to be hybrid, preferably series hybrid, anything else is a nonsense. From what I can remember from my engineering degree, diesel engines run much cleaner when they run at a constant, slow speed, which they can as part of a hybrid drivetrain.

Lola said...

Bayard. Both diesel and petrol engines are most efficient at constant speed. There is a sweet spot between maximum torque and maximum power. To observe this in real time, and if your car has one, just watch the instantaneous fuel consumption read out. My car at about 55 / 60 on a level-ish motorway will do 50+ mpg.

mombers said...

@all, by no means do I think cars should be banned. But inner cities can certainly do with fewer cars. Public transport and walking is not cost effective in lower density areas, but pollution isn't a problem either as there are so few cars and so much air. The disproportionate number of road fatalities on rural roads is a separate problem though.

Re taxis, they are a MUCH more efficient use of resources. A private car sits in the driveway 98% of the time. Enormous resources used to create something that sits idle most of the time. Not to mention the capital tied up. I'd love to ditch the c. £5k petrol, insurance, servicing and depreciation that Mrs M's car chomps every year. I don't drive but we're in zone 4 and bear shops so very feasible.

@Lola, I'd be careful what figures you use for NO and particulates being sorted. There's just been a huge scandal about fiddling numbers you know. I'd trust a well calibrated air quality monitor over what the car manufacturers say.

Lola said...

M. Yes indeed. On the fiddle. Agreed. But urea injection and DPF has pretty well sorted diesel emissions when properly applied. The fact that (it seems) all German manufacturers were gaming the rules tells me tow things. The rules (to many of) and the testing methodology are flawed, and that the Germans are not as smart at making stuff as they think they are. For example Merc has to get all its F1 technology from the UK...:-)

Dinero said...

> Lola
Rural areas do have subsidised bus routes , although they are not advertised and have subsequently less usage.

I think a lot of urban and country car owners find buses and timetables a totally mysterious curiosity, outside of their experience.

Dinero said...

Modern cars have had great success in reducing the pollution emissions.
I was standing at a bus stop last summer beside a dual carriage when it dawned on me how clean the air was , in the the 1970s or even 1980s it would pretty noxious. Back then walking along a high street was a respiratory challenge, nowadays its comparatively ok.

Dinero said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dinero said...

- Fun fact -
The check engine light was invented in California to ensure that car owners would not drive around with impaired catalytic converters, in the UK where we have MOTs with emission testing the CEL is not so important, as long as the emission testing is up to scratch of course.

Lola said...

Dinero. ALL bus services are subsidised. For me it's not the price it's the convenience and practicality. You cannot run enough buses to make it easy for me to get to work. And as I often work late you can't keep buses waiting until I want to go home. The only thing that works is personal transport.

mombers said...

@L all transport is subsidised - roads, policing, casualty, courts, etc are all provided by the government. There is fuel duty and the like but these are taxes, not user charges. People don't pay exactly what these services cost and these services don't get all of their funding hypothecated from driving related taxes.
Rural areas are not a problem for cars, in urban areas they cause an enormous amount of wasted space (parking), time (congestion) and health problems (pollution and road deaths and injuries). They've just shut down Bank junction to cars near my office and it's great - the scarce space can be shared more equally between pedestrians, buses and delivery vehicles.

Lola said...

M Oh come on! Only a fraction of what is raised in taxes in one way or another on vehicles and drivers is spent on the roads...the balance supports the traffic related use of those other services.

The 'wasted space' bit. I suppose it depends on what is the most efficient use of space. It could be that parking is more efficient for many people than extra office accommodation.

In any event car ownership is declining in cities - I heard. If I lived in one I certainly would not commute by car. I'd still own a car though.

Another problem I have observed is that the 19th Century street-scape does not offer much off road parking.

And things don't really change...

mombers said...

@L yes car ownership is definitely declining in cities. It's much cheaper to uber and zip car for a lot of people if they commute by train or bus, and a welcome efficiency. All those cars sitting on the pavement for 98% of the time is not a good use of capital. Again though, rural and exurban communities are a different story altogether - private car use is MUCH more efficient than shared transport.

In Germany I heard they had some programs where developments were exempt from minimum parking requirements on the basis that residents were simply not eligible for on-street parking permits. I've suggested this to my council - much bleating about lack of parking for developments but if they are targeted at car free residents then sorted.

Pity that the benefits of both of the above will largely be eaten up by increases in rents. Families that would be two car in less urban environments than London end up having one car, and the extra loot gets gobbled up in higher rents.

Lola said...

Mombers. Indeed re all that capital sitting in a car on the drive. But you neglect 'pride of ownership, snob value etc. etc. And the convenience of having it there when you need it. Many people are happy to pay that price.

mombers said...

@L definitely but lots of people are clearly making the switch voluntarily. And people can chose to live in a home that either has off street parking or eligibility for an on street parking permit

Lola said...

Mombers Agreed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Momb, total taxes on motorists/cars is about £50 billion a year, cost of maintaining road is about £10 billion. That's why fuel duty is one of the few good taxes, it's LVT for roads.

Apart from that, I think we are all agreed that private cars in town centres = madness (pollution, inefficient use of limited space) but necessary out in the countryside (pollution not such a problem, plenty of space)

The converse applies to buses and trains.

The question is, where is the dividing line between town centre and countryside? Where is public transport best and where are private cars best?

Lola said...

Mombers/MW I have offices in the Town Centre (with 6 parking spaces). No client parking. We encourage all our out of town clients to use the Park and Ride.

FWIW if you are visitor Cambridge ONLY us the Park and Ride...

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, more good examples.

pen seive said...

Does this mean that all foreign registered petrol and diesel powered canrs will be banned from entering the country? Cross channel ferries switching off their engines and inserting 60 million AA batteries once they enter UK territorial waters? What about foreign officials who have diplomatic immunity and insist on using oil burners?
I can see the sales of non-electric cars going down to zero from 2035 as they will be worthless in a few years. Where on earth do we get these lobotomised imbeciles from? The answer, of course, is we keep electing them!

Bayard said...

Lola @ 22:09. The point that that my thermodynamics lecturer was making was that diesel is a slow-burning fuel, therefore to burn it efficiently, the engine cannot run fast like a petrol engine as the fuel need time to burn before the power stroke becomes the exhaust stroke. I have always wondered if the NO pollutants are a result of the development of high-revving diesel engines and, if we went back to low-revving engines powering a generator, this problem could be solved without any technological wizardry.