Tuesday

20th Aug 2019

Focus

Study: Dieselgate helped cause 6,800 premature deaths in EU

  • Protest sticker in Brussels

Emissions produced by diesel passenger cars that exceed the EU pollution limit helped cause the premature deaths of 6,800 Europeans in 2015, according to a study published on Monday (15 May) in the renowned scientific magazine Nature.

Researchers calculated that nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions contributed to 107,600 premature deaths in 2015 in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and the US.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In the European Union alone, NOx emissions contributed to 28,456 premature deaths. Of those premature deaths, 40 percent were caused by emissions that would not have existed if car, bus and truck manufacturers had produced vehicles that always stayed under EU limits when driving on the road.

EU passenger cars, buses and trucks can only be sold if they pass emissions tests. The actual emissions on the road, however, are often much higher than what would be expected from the results in the tests.

Many car-makers, in particular, designed their vehicles in such a way that they pass the laboratory test, which does not go far enough in mimicking the conditions of real-life driving. Those cars were then found to emit much more pollution when in actual use on the road - causing a scandal that became known as Dieselgate.

The researchers whose article appeared in Nature on Monday have calculated how many people have died prematurely because of NOx, but also how many of those premature deaths are linked to the amount that was emitted beyond what is legally allowed, a concept they call “excess emissions”.

They found some 16 percent of those EU premature deaths were linked to excess emissions from trucks and buses, and 24 percent to excess emissions from passenger cars.

“Europe suffers the largest health burden from excess diesel NOx emissions of any major vehicle market”, said one of the study's authors, Ray Minjares, in a press release.

Minjares and several other co-authors are linked to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a non-governmental organisation that helped to uncover the emissions fraud by Volkswagen Group (VW).

It was the ICCT's research that American authorities used as a lead to uncover Volkswagen's cheating.

The study in Nature magazine followed a similar study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which said Volkswagen cars with emissions cheating software in Germany alone caused a total of 1,200 premature deaths in Europe during the period between 2008 and 2015.

Both studies appeared in peer-reviewed publications and are the first to quantify the harm to health caused by car-makers by not applying available technology to develop clean diesel cars.

They also raise questions surrounding the lack of legal action that Europe's responsible national authorities have shown since the scandal broke in September 2015.

The European Commission began infringement proceedings last year against Germany, the UK, Luxembourg and Spain, because they had not punished VW's subsidiaries – Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi, and Seat (respectively) – for using cheating software.

Earlier this year, a European Parliament inquiry committee concluded that maladministration at national and EU level had created the legal environment in which Dieselgate could happen.

Investigation

Health experts to study Dieselgate impact

Scientists are aiming to provide a complete picture of the effects of the excess emissions of diesel cars, after they estimated VW's emissions test cheating would lead to 1,200 premature deaths in Europe.

Exclusive

Belgium prepares probe into Politico tobacco sponsorship

Tobacco company British American Tobacco sponsored the popular Playbook newsletter this week - saying it is not against the law because the advertisements were not about specific products. Now the Belgian authorities are preparing to investigate.

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Irish border plan is 'anti-democratic', Johnson tells EU
  2. Polish deputy minister targeted judges in hate campaign
  3. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  4. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  5. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  6. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  7. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  8. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us