Air pollution is right at the top of ministers’ agendas right now. And it seems curbing car use – particularly that powered by diesel engines – is the desired way of trimming emissions.
But a new study estimates that the UK is already ahead of most of our neighbours, with the vehicles we drive being less toxic than 17 other countries in Europe.
Of 25 countries reviewed, the Czech Republic’s motoring was found to be the most noxious, followed by Poland and Estonia.
Noxious nations: A new study has ranked 25 European countries in order of how toxic their vehicles are – and the UK is among the cleanest of them all
Somewhat surprising considering the diesel backlash and toxin taxes currently being issued, British drivers emerged as some of the greenest in Europe.
The UK secured a spot in the top 10 cleanest nations beating rivals such as France and Germany.
And with the British government intent on introducing a ban on the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, the UK could soon soar up the rankings if motorists look to jump ship to low-emissions cars in the interim period.
Back in January, the Committee for Climate Change warned ministers that three in every five vehicles purchased in 12 years’ time will need to be low-emissions models if the Government is serious about meeting legally-binding carbon targets.
Just 3.3 per cent of all new cars registered in 2017 were electric or hybrids, though industry insiders remain confident we will meet the CCC’s 2030 deadline.
While just three in 100 new cars sold in the UK last year were alternative fuel models, according to the SMMT, industry insiders say the country is ‘already on course’ to meet the target for three-fifths of new vehicles to be electric by 2030.
Chargemaster, the UK’s largest provider of electric vehicle chargers, estimates that there will be one million electric cars in the UK by the end of 2022, accounting for around 10 per cent of all new registrations, with enough public chargers to cope with the rising number of plug-in cars.
The Committee for Climate Change warned ministers that more drivers needed to switch to electric cars for the UK to hit emissions targets for 2030
The analysis took into account numerous factors, including the number of alternative fuel vehicles registered in each country, the average car age, the number of motors per 1,000 people and ambient air pollution levels
How was the toxicity of each nation’s cars calculated?
The Eco Experts – a UK energy-saving comparison site – cross-referenced a whole host of data, including the percentage of alternative fuel cars registered in each country, average vehicle age, the number of cars per 1,000 people, and ambient air pollution.
Once all those factors were taken into account, countries were ranked in order of who is deemed as having the most toxic motorists.
Europe’s most toxic drivers
1. Czech Republic
18. United Kingdom
Source: The Eco Experts
The Czech Republic was found to have the highest toxicity of all 25 European nations reviewed in the study
At the dirtier end of the scale, the Czech Republic, which has one of the highest recorded air pollution levels in the continent, was named as the European nation with the most polluting drivers of all the 25 countries assessed.
The main reason for this was the high volume of old, poor quality cars still being used by Czech drivers.
The Eco Experts found that the average age of cars in the country is just over 14 years. In comparison the average UK vehicle is just eight years, the report said.
The Czech Republic is also one of the slowest countries to adopt alternative fuel vehicles, according to the comparison site.
Just 0.7 per cent of the Czech registered cars are hybrid or electric, which is nearly 22 times less than the number seen in neighbouring Poland – which appears in second in the toxic standings followed by Estonia.
In fact, the list of top five worst offenders is completely populated by Eastern European nations, with Croatia and Slovakia also featuring to make it the most toxic region on the continent in terms of passenger vehicles.
Sweden ranked in first place overall for having Europe’s greenest motorists, though it would have undoubtedly been beaten by Norway had it been included, which set a record for half the market share on new models sold last year being electric.
Fran Whittaker-Wood from The Eco Experts said,: ‘Road transport is one of the biggest sources of air pollution and although our research shows that poor quality vehicles is the biggest contributing factor to toxic driving emissions, the reality is that most people can’t afford to replace their cars with sustainable alternatives because they are just too expensive.
‘If governments are serious about cutting driver pollution levels then more needs to be done to make these cars affordable to everyone.’
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