Fear the Airpocalypse
European Mayors Push for Cleaner Air

London and Paris have been struggling with smoggy skies of late, and their mayors aim to do something about it. Reuters reports:

Anne Hidalgo of Paris and London’s Sadiq Khan said the system would set up a scoring system to identify real-life emissions from cars, with the aim of providing consumers with more accurate information. […]

The scheme would rely on road and “real world” testing by emissions analytics and the International Council for Clean Transportation, and allocate each model of car a score based on all air pollutants emitted.

You’ll forgive us for being somewhat skeptical of any European initiative to measure tailpipe emissions from vehicles. To say the “green” continent has a checkered past with this sort of thing would be an understatement—even before the well-publicized VW diesel dupe, the U.S. had accused the EU of gaming emissions tests through such underhanded practices as taping up door panels to reduce drag, taking out auxiliary systems like side mirrors and sound systems to reduce weight, and outfitting cars with specially designed tires to gain better mileage when run through the paces.

That said, there’s a real need for Europe’s cities to start addressing the toxic smog its diesel cars are belching into the air. Here’s the problem in a nutshell: diesel engines get better gas mileage but emit more local air pollutants, so by emphasizing diesel cars, Europe traded clean air for lower greenhouse gas emissions. London and Paris have been particularly hard hit by this degradation in air quality, which is why their mayors are agitating for more accurate emissions measurement.

Don’t be fooled by its lofty rhetoric about better environmental stewardship—Europe is in many ways behind the United States on green issues.

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