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Cars and their drivers – the world’s great polluters
by Victoria Cochrane on 05/30/08

Cars may get us from A to B (and sometimes even C and D) with a minimum of fuss, but they also cause lots of pollution. Yes, that's right; in major cities and large towns throughout the world, motor vehicles cause a wide range of air pollution problems. Now a UK government advisor has suggested that drivers should be helped to see that a “cleaner” car is good for their bank balance as well as the environment.

In a report that was published alongside the Budget in May this year, Professor Julia King says she wants the lifetime costs of running a car to be prominently displayed in the showroom. Currently, new car buyers are told the cost of owning a car for a year. But Professor King argues it would be more persuasive to show running costs for a decade or longer.

The report says a 4.4 litre petrol Range Rover, driven 12,000 miles a year for 10 years, would cost more than £35,000 in petrol and vehicle excise duty. Another family car, a Peugeot 307, would cost around £11,000.

Professor King believes that information presented in this form will jolt buyers into greener choices. She also proposes a colour-coded road tax disc dependent on emissions levels. This would help to create peer pressure, and make it easier for local authorities to run schemes such as Manchester City Council’s plan to offer 25% discounts in car parks to owners of cleaner cars.

Professor King is urging the government to set up an advertising advisory group to ensure that much stronger messages on fuel efficiency and pollution are embedded in vehicle advertising. She wants car manufacturers to be forced to publish comparative figures showing how their models compare with other manufacturers in the same class of car.

On biofuels, she counsels caution against the negative effects of an uncontrolled expansion, but suggests that the government mandates fuel companies to include a set proportion of biofuels in the mix at the pump. Friends of the Earth and the RSPB are likely to argue that it would be better for the UK and EU to abandon biofuels targets altogether, until there is confidence that they can be produced without damaging the very environment they are supposed to protect.

Car use is increasing every year, but now hybrid vehicles are available which get their energy from batteries or petrol. These cars are still uncommon, despite often offering cheaper car finance costs, but they are pointing the way to a future with cars contributing less to air pollution.

So we can see that the battle is far from over; drivers will need to use their cars responsibly and keep them in tip-top condition so the world can continue to improve matters and ensure we try to improve air quality, and lower carbon emissions.

Victoria Cochrane writes on a number of topics on behalf of a digital marketing agency and a variety of clients. As such, this article is to be considered a professional piece with business interests in mind.

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car finance motoring pollution biofuels
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