Does diesel pollute more than petrol?

Diesel used to be reserved for trucks and taxis but nowadays performance saloons and even racing cars use the fuel. Tackling the question of whether diesel or petrol pollutes more isn’t straight forward because each is bad for the environment and for people’s health.

Diesel v petrol

The price differential between the two types of fuel means that some of diesel’s fuel efficiency isn’t translated into money saved. Given that petrol cars are now more efficient than ever and that new evidence suggests that diesel engines are more damaging for the environment, let’s hope that the government officials who have been pushing us towards diesel powered vehicles rethink their strategy.


For years the push towards diesel power has been driven by the government’s desire to reduce carbon emissions. This push is an initiative to lower than nation’s effect on global warming. To make this happen, tax incentives are used so cars that produce lower emissions are taxed less. In fact diesel cars with the lowest carbon emissions are not taxed at all.

Department of Health

Professor Frank Kellyof the Department of Health has come up with some interesting stats that conclude that diesel is responsible for 7,000 deaths per year. Diesels produce less carbon emissions which is why they’ve been championed by government but they also produce other toxic emissions that do more short term harm. Although diesels are more efficient than petrol engines and produce around 20% less carbon dioxide per mile, the rubbish spewed out of a diesel car’s exhaust includes gases like benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde which can cause inflammation, asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes. But by far the worst outcome is lung disease in the elderly.


Will this new evidence and the Volkswagen emissions scandal make the government rethink its strategy on global warming and car taxation? Let’s hope so because we’re heading in the wrong direction now.

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