Paris, Lon­don, Rot­ter­dam against diesel

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

PARIS — France is con­sid­er­ing rais­ing taxes on diesel over the next five years to end an ad­van­tage over petrol and en­cour­age driv­ers to choose cleaner cars, En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Se­go­lene Royal said.

Diesel’s im­age has been tar­nished by health warn­ings and in the past month by rev­e­la­tions that Volk­swa­gen cheated on emis­sions tests in the United States, putting coun­tries like France that have pro­moted diesel cars in re­cent decades in an awk­ward po­si­tion.

Royal, who is also re­spon­si­ble for trans­port, has in re­cent weeks re­jected calls to ban diesel or end its tax breaks, but last week­end backed the idea of phas­ing out the fuel’s tax ad­van­tage. “We need to start pre­par­ing our move out of diesel right now,” she told France 5 tele­vi­sion. “We should phase out diesel’s [tax] ad­van­tage over five years.”

She said that the fuel tax levied on diesel was cur­rently 0,15 eu­ros per litre lower than on petrol. Pro­gres­sive in­creases in diesel taxes would be dis­cussed dur­ing the de­bate on France’s 2016 bud­get bill, and should be off­set by tax breaks for buy­ing cleaner-fuel ve­hi­cles, she said.

This rep­re­sents an about­turn for the France gov­ern­ment, which had in the 1960s opted to sub­sidise diesel cars be­cause they were seen as less pol­lut­ing than petrol in the days be­fore cat­alytic con­vert­ers be­came stan­dard.

This led to diesel mod­els to­day ac­count­ing for over 50% of all cars on French roads.

Diesel has faced grow­ing crit­i­cism since the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2012 clas­si­fied diesel en­gine ex­haust as very car­cino­genic.

City author­i­ties have an­nounced moves to re­strict the fuel’s use in ve­hi­cles in Lon­don and Paris. The Volk­swa­gen scan­dal has also un­der­mined the tra­di­tional ar­gu­ment in favour of diesel that it has lower car­bon emis­sions than petrol.

Min­is­ter Royal is not alone in her down-with-diesel view, which France al­ready an­nounced in 2012.

In July last year the Mayor of Lon­don Boris John­son also an­nounced his coun­cil’s in­ten­tion to in­tro­duce plans to phase out diesel ve­hi­cles, which ac­count for 40% of the cap­i­tal’s air pol­lu­tion.

The city of Rot­ter­dam in the Nether­lands is also look­ing to elim­i­nate the worst-pol­lut­ing cars on its streets, and plans to of­fer in­cen­tives for al­ter­na­tives.

The city plans to up­grade its own fleet to cut pol­lu­tion by 25%, and is con­sid­er­ing ban­ning older cars from its cen­tre, ac­cord­ing to Dutch News.

Rot­ter­dam may stop is­su­ing park­ing per­mits for diesel cars built be­fore 2005, and petrol cars built be­fore 1992, as well as of­fer the own­ers cash for scrap­ping the dirt­i­est cars.

Com­mer­cial trucks could also be banned from the Graveni­jk­wal — a ma­jor high­way and cur­rently Rot­ter­dam’s most-pol­luted road.

As an al­ter­na­tive, the city also wants to in­stall more elec­tric-car charg­ing sta­tions and im­prove bike fa­cil­i­ties.

The Nether­lands has in­tro­duced na­tional tax breaks to pro­mote 200 000 elec­tric cars on Dutch roads by 2020.

In South Africa, where 80% of all goods are de­liv­ered by truck, diesel will be the fuel for a long time yet, pre­dicts the di­rec­tor of the Automotive Af­ter­mar­ket Di­vi­sion at Bosch South Africa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.