Why Does The Volkswagen Car Emissions Scandal Matter?

5th October 2015

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When news broke the other week that Volkswagen had fitted 11 million vehicles with devices that allowed them to cheat emissions tests, the backlash was huge with shares in the German company crashing. Now setting aside the fact that drivers have been lied to about the emissions their cars are emitting, what impact does the fact that VW have been doing this actually have?

In the USA, where the scandal was discovered, it was found that vehicles were emitting up to 40 times the country’s legal limit of Nitrogen Oxide – NOx – which car owners have therefore been unknowingly pumping into the atmosphere, thinking that they were actually driving much greener cars. Nitrogen Oxide is a pollutant which contributes to global warming and can be held responsible for illnesses such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, so the impact upon public health and the environment at large cannot be undermined amongst the uproar of disenfranchised Volkswagen owners.

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With global warming very much at the forefront of public attention in recent years and governments across the world striving to reach targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, this will raise the question of whether other manufacturers have been doing similar things which are deceiving well-meaning people and businesses. We have written before about the dangers of greenhouse gasses and with recent scientific evidence showing the diesel is not in fact better for the environment as we had been led to believe previously, car manufacturers will now need to take a close look at their products in order to satisfy a very angry market.

European standards for emissions are not as strict as those in the USA, so it could be that fewer cars in Europe are affected, but likewise will this lead to tighter regulation and rules for the car industry in Europe to ensure that cars on the continent are releasing lower quantities of dangerous chemicals? A lot of questions are raised by the revelations that have come out in recent weeks but one thing that’s for sure is that the Nitrogen Oxide is dangerous, it is harmful and if one good thing comes from this scandal, hopefully it will be that new technologies will be developed that instead of cheating tests, genuinely improve air quality and reduce emissions.

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