The diesel emissions scandal, which started with Volkswagen, is now sweeping across the entire motor industry, with Renault, and Fiat Chrysler among the latest big name brands to be accused of cheating emissions tests.

What this proves, once and for all, is that diesel engines are too dirty – and dangerous to human health – to be allowed to continue to enjoy low tax rates (11 cent per litre less than petrol) and cheaper prices at the pumps, according to An Taisce, which also favours banning diesel vehicles from built-up areas, including Dublin city centre.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan missed the opportunity in the 2017 Budget to increase duties on diesel so that it was at least as expensive per litre as petrol. Diesel exhaust fumes are rated by the World Health Organisation as carcinogenic. These fumes contain a toxic mix of nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter and carbon monoxide.

Every diesel vehicle on the road in Ireland today is contributing to an annual death toll of some 1,200 people as a direct result of air pollution. In addition, recent World Bank data estimates air pollution cost Ireland €58m in days lost at work every year and €2.2bn in annual welfare losses.

“We welcome moves by the US Environmental Protection Agency to begin criminal proceedings against named individuals within Volkswagen who allegedly conspired to fit illegal ‘cheat’ devices to cars to enable them to pass emissions tests”, according to Charles Stanley-Smith of An Taisce.

“These are not victimless crimes. Millions of people worldwide, and thousands here in Ireland, are having their health destroyed and lives ended prematurely as a result of these appalling corporate deceptions. The fact that Volkswagen labelled these cars ‘clean diesel’ while knowing this to be completely false is further evidence that criminal behaviour can only be addressed with criminal sanctions”, Stanley-Smith added. Similar action from EU regulators is urgently needed.

"Diesel carmakers have clearly been cheating abominably, without a moment's thought for the devastating health consequences of their lies” according to James Nix of An Taisce. “There's a clear and urgent need now to reform the Irish VRT and motor tax systems for new cars to tilt sales decisively away from diesels and towards electric”.

Politically, Mr Nix added, such reform would be relatively pain-free as it wouldn't affect any vehicles already on the road.

The rapid transitioning of the national fleet of private cars to electric need renewed support from government and agencies such as the ESB. “Almost all the reasons holding back the switch to electric vehicles are now resolved. Many new models can comfortably do 200km on a single charge, but we need to invest in fast-charging stations and offer incentives such as access to bus lanes, to tip the balance decisively in favour of electric vehicles”, Charles Stanley-Smith of An Taisce concluded.


Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee. Tel: +353 87 233 2689
email: [email protected]
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland


About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.