An anti-diesel agenda has resulted in new car CO2 emissions rising for the first time in 14 years as people make the switch to petrol, recent research suggests.
Department for Transport figures show that the average new car sold in 2017 produces more CO2 than one sold in 2016, reversing a continuous decline in emissions of the greenhouse gas since the figures were first published by the Government in 2003.
The rise has been attributed to the drop in sales of diesel cars which are generally more efficient, and produce less CO2, than an equivalent petrol model. After recent tax rises, the threat of widespread inner city charges for older diesel cars and new findings about the harmful effects of fumes, diesel sales have declined by 16% so far this year.
Official Government statistics for the first 10 months of 2017 show that the average new car produces 121.1g of CO2 per kilometre. The full annual figure is on course to exceed the 120.3g/km recorded last year. It ends a 14-year trend of falling CO2 emissions, which have declined by 4.02g/km annually since 2003.
The information is based on data on new car registrations, collected by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Car manufacturers are under pressure to meet an EU target of cutting average car CO2 emissions across the industry to 95g/km by 2021, but the recent backlash against diesel has damaged their strategy of meeting the target by selling more efficient diesel cars.
Although sales of new electric and hybrid cars have increased by 35% in 2017, this only represents an extra 28,611 cars compared with 2016. The number of new diesel cars sold has fallen by more than 190,000.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We will seek to maintain ambitious targets and our leadership position, and intervening firmly if not enough progress is being made.
“Our ambitious Clean Growth Strategy includes investing nearly £1.5 billion in accelerating the roll-out of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020 – generating business opportunities and leading to cleaner air and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”