The VW emissions fiasco
The last time VW got so much publicity was over their way of keeping the union bosses happy with lavish parties, prostitutes and Viagra. But the emissions fiasco has quite a story of its own to tell
What a farce! Sturm und drang in Wolfsburg. The boss ousted (there’s an upcoming vacancy at FIFA that might suit him). Billions wiped off the stock market value. Germany’s reputation for engineering integrity trampled in the dust.
‘At scenes so tragic I could scarce forbear to laugh’.
At the heart of the VW fiasco are the conflicting aims of two groups of busybodies. In the Red corner we have – surprise, surprise – the Brussels nomenklatura.
They are leaders in the climate change-global warming racket that generates enormous profits for ‘green power’ companies and manufacturers of wind turbines subsidised by the taxpayers of Europe, and damaging Europe’s competitiveness through energy prices treble those of competitors.
Twenty or more years ago they exhorted us to switch to diesel power in our vehicles because its CO2 emissions were lower than petrol power. Of course, LPG would have been more effective but the UK government ratcheted up the excise duty on it so that it became uneconomical.
The EU motivation for throwing all this grit into the economic machine was to meet the ludicrous emission targets in international agreements which the major polluters -- the US, China et al refused to sign (the fact that this made the whole exercise pointless and worthless was not, and never has been, a deterrent to the men in suits in the Berlaymont).
In the Blue corner we have various US enforcers (motto: ‘go forth and multiply’) which had little interest in carbon emissions, but plenty in nitrous oxide which does not contribute to climate change but does create public health problems.
Now the scheissen hits the air conditioning. The Yanks discovered that VW had been gaming the emission tests all along (and the fuel consumption monitoring).
And it is tempting to say ‘So what?’. Although over 50 percentof vehicles in Europe are diesel-powered, only about 1 percent of US cars are oilers. In any case, most nitrous oxide pollution must come from the heaviest users; heavy trucks, locomotives, construction machinery, ships, oil-fired central heating.
Will all these now be subject to emissions regulation? Don’t be silly!
What we are left with is a contest between two utterly conflicting targets. In the Red corner we have climate change; in the Blue we have public health concerns.
It is a reasonable certainty that there is not a single diesel engine in the world that meets the US emission limits; if the VW TDI puffs out 40 times the limit this only proves one thing. The limits are fiction; they are clearly unobtainable. And we don’t know who fixed them or on what criteria or scientific proof or health concern.
The last time VW got so much publicity was over their way of keeping the union bosses happy with lavish parties, prostitutes and Viagra.
Much more fun than ‘defeat devices’!
Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world
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