Carbon dioxide emissions are basically the same
Usually, when people talk about diesel emissions, they focus on nitrous oxide levels. After all, it’s the pollutant that Volkswagen tried to hide with its emissions-cheating software. And despite its popularity as an anesthetic during surgery and as a, uh, mood enhancer, it’s also a well-known greenhouse gas that’s also responsible for depleting the ozone layer. But according to a recent study, diesels release quite a bit of carbon dioxide, as well.
Reuters reports that according to the German Transport Ministry, there’s no significant difference in the amount of CO2 that diesel and gasoline engines emit. Diesels registered in 2016 reportedly emitted an average of 128 grams of CO2 per kilometer, only slightly less than gas-powered cars’ average of 129 grams per kilometer. So while diesel engines should theoretically emit less CO2, in practice, they’re right on par with their gasoline counterparts. The Transport Ministry says that’s partly because of the vehicles people prefer to buy with diesel engines.
“It’s a myth that diesel helps protect the climate,” said Stephan Kuehn, a transport expert for Germany’s Greens party. “Diesel motors squander the theoretical advantages they could bring for the environment by often being built into heavy, high-powered cars.”
With minimal environmental advantages and the dark cloud of the Volkswagen emissions scandal still hanging over its head, it’s going to be hard for diesel to gain much ground. It’s unlikely to die off completely, at least anytime soon. But this latest report may encourage more countries to consider phasing out diesel over the next few years.