How Much CO2 Emissions From Petrol And Diesel Cars In The UK: Bottom-line Far Too Much!

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Polluting Petrol & Diesel Cars Should Be Relegated To An Annual Run Like The ‘London To Brighton Veteran Car Run’.  For All Other Days Of The Year Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicles Should Be Banned From UK Roads! 

It is a yearly tradition for me.  I get to the front of Buckingham Palace at the crack of dawn to wave at the 400 plus pre-1905 motor vehicles that run the ‘London to Brighton veteran car run’.  As they pass by, the smoke from the tailpipes is more than evident and more often than not, I do find myself stepping further back from the edge of the road to avoid inhaling any more CO2 than I need to! 

I dream of the day that all internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be banned from our roads, except for the annual traditions like the veteran car run. I certainly can envision the ‘London to Brighton ICE run’.  

In the UK we have nearly 40 million vehicles on the road from passenger cars to commercial vehicles, with more than 90% being polluting petrol or diesel cars driven by an internal combustion engine (ICE).  These vehicles are of varying ages, with an average age of more than 8 years.  Of course, the older the vehicle, the worse is the carbon dioxide (CO2) emission level from the vehicle.  

In fact, road transport is the biggest contributor to air pollution in the UK.  Vehicles contribute to more than 25% of CO2 emissions with some estimates nearly as high as 30%. The polluting vehicles have a direct and significant impact on the health of the 66 million UK population.  Road transportation is strongly correlated to the ongoing urgent discussion on climate change.  In fact, the residential and business sector only contributes to 15% of CO2 emissions i.e. road transportation contribution is nearly double!   

London To Brighton Veteran Car Run 2019
London To Brighton Veteran Car Run 2019

Even One Gram Of CO2 Emission Is Too Much, Let Alone 68.5 Metric Tons Of Emissions Per Year! Some Quick Facts:

  • The average tailpipe CO2 emitted from an ICE vehicle is 149.6 g/km (some estimates put this even higher at 158.7 g/km).
  • The average tailpipe CO2 emitted from a new ICE vehicle is 120.1 g/km (new cars are up to a third more efficient than used cars).
  • Average miles travelled per year by a car in the UK: 7,500 miles (12,070 kms)
  • Road transports emits 68.5 MtCO2e (metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year.  This is an astounding figure! 
  • Hybrid cars emit 40% less CO2 than the average car. 
  • The emissions from a battery electric vehicle (BEV) is zero!  

The European Union (and the UK) aim to reduce the average emissions produced by new cars to 95 gms of CO2 per kilometer by 2021. The Euro standards cover four pollutants: carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

Despite these efforts to reduce emissions, the grave danger from air pollution is ever-present. It is amply clear that the consolidated impact of ICE used and new cars on UK roads will continue to have a significant negative impact on the population.  

The only sensible way forward is the rapid migration to all-electric zero-emission road transportion, with electric vehicle batteries being charged by green electricity

The recent announcement on Bristol becoming the first city to ban diesel cars is welcome news. However, its intent is not as far reaching as I would have liked to see. The Bristol City Council has agreed to ban privately owned diesel cars from the central zone during daytime. However, it does not ban commercial diesel vehicles. In fact, all diesel vehicles should be banned 24/7. I urge all councils across the country to introduce such comprehensive bans at the soonest!

I urge most people to avoid using a car where possible. Walk or use public transportation. When there is no option, but to use a car, I recommend using a sharing scheme that has plug-in electric vehicles, in particular pure electric vehicles. Where one needs to own a car, I strongly recommend migrating to a green car!  

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Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising the TVS Group, a multi-billion dollar industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised AMIH, a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He is also a member of the Forbury Investment Network advisory committee. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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