London Council Doubles Number of Petrol and Diesel Vehicles despite Climate Emergency

In 2019, the Lambeth Council declared a climate emergency. They were the first among London’s local authorities to do so. The move was a show of support and commitment to the zero-emissions goal set for the year 2030.

Recently, however, the council became the subject of displeasure as a significant increase in the number of fossil fuel vehicles in their fleet was discovered. In 2019, the workers-led council had only 62 petrol and diesel vehicles. Today, they have 148 petrol and diesel vehicles in their fleet.

Records show that in the last three years, the number of petrol and diesel vehicles that the Lambeth Council bought was 82 while EV (electric vehicles) purchases equalled only 41. Liberal Democrat group leader Councilwoman Donna Harris believes that the council failed to act immediately on climate change. After declaring a climate emergency three years ago, they didn’t take the time to come up with a climate protection plan.

Even then, the council continued to contradict their actions as they decided to purchase more petrol and diesel vehicles, which doubled their fossil fuel-powered fleet. Instead of providing an active example to the public, the council decided to look the other way and contribute to more polluted air.

The council member also said that Wandsworth, Southwark, and other neighbouring boroughs have more electric car charging points than Lambeth. This shouldn’t be a hindrance to their goal of converting their fleet into electric vehicles, though.

Lambeth Council’s fossil fuel vehicles have increased in number because services that were previously provided by the private sector are now under the control of the council, including municipal repairs and public transport. The council said that businesses, organisations, and residents need to work together to lower emission levels.

They further gave assurance that the council already has a blueprint in place for the net zero emissions campaign. The council also recognised the need to shift to an all-electric fleet and even announced that they have purchased additional EVs.

However, this doesn’t change the fact that they have more petrol and diesel vehicles in their fleet. Their number of EVs isn’t even half of their 148 fossil fuel vehicles.

Elsewhere in London, some councils are actively working on reducing fossil fuel vehicles and converting to EVs, specifically the Southwark Council, which is trying out mechanical broom vehicles and electric garbage trucks. Although they purchased nine fossil fuel vehicles, Southwark also brought in around 17 EVs to their fleet.

Lewisham Council, on the other hand, announced that they would be carbon neutral by the year 2030 but have not done much in the last three years. The council still owns petrol and diesel vehicles – 108, to be exact. They haven’t purchased even one electric car since 2019.

Dieselgate and emissions trouble

Diesel emissions have been in the news since 2015, when the Dieselgate scandal involving the Volkswagen Group first broke. Authorities from the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States said they found defeat devices in VW and Audi vehicles sold in the US. These devices are meant to artificially control emissions when a vehicle is in testing. It reduces emissions levels during the entirety of the test so that the vehicle could appear fuel-efficient and pass the test.

When the vehicle is taken out of the lab and on real roads, however, the defeat device causes the vehicle to revert to its default setting. The vehicle then starts emitting elevated levels of nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxide is a highly reactive gas with nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide as its main components. It is responsible for producing smog, acid rain, and ground-level ozone, which is known to damage vegetation.

NOx also affects your mental and overall health. Exposure to it can trigger frequent episodes of anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related issues. Cognitive abilities weaken and you become susceptible to dementia (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease).

Exposure to NOx emissions also impacts your general health. You can experience or develop asthma, vocal cord spasms, chronic reduction of lung function, and cardiovascular diseases. The number of premature deaths linked to NOx emissions increases steadily year after year.

Volkswagen did not only expose their customers to these dangerous and life-altering impacts; they also lied to car owners by mis-selling defeat device-equipped vehicles. Authorities demanded the carmaker recall thousands of their vehicles. VW has also spent billions in payoffs (fines, fees, settlement agreements, and compensation).

Other popular carmakers are also involved in the diesel emissions scandal, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Renault, and Peugeot. UK-based Vauxhall is one of the newest additions to the list; defeat device use allegations came out in early 2021. Vauxhall emissions claims have recently been made against the carmaker.

Emissions claims

An emissions claim is a legal procedure that allows car owners to get compensation for the damage the defeat device has done to their vehicle, as well as for the environmental and health risks they were exposed to. If you’re a Vauxhall diesel car owner, you may be eligible to make a claim if the vehicle was purchased, leased, or financed and manufactured between the years 2008-2019.

There are other requirements, so checking your eligibility for a Vauxhall emissions claim should be your first step. Visit the ClaimExperts.co.uk page to get more information about making a claim.