As with the economy, government intervention can have unintended consequences. In Europe, the push to go green actually endangered lives through noxious air pollution.
London, Paris and European governments “aggressively promoted diesel vehicles,” The Washington Post reported on Dec. 20. Why? For the environment, of course. Governments used policy to steer people away from carbon-dioxide emissions and toward diesel as the better choice.
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But the attempt to go green backfired as nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel vehicles are shortening lives and clogging lungs, according to the Post’s London bureau chief Griff Witte.
London has become the “global leader” in nitrogen dioxide pollution which reduces lifespans of “thousands” per year.
Witte specifically blamed the diesel pollution to “decades of government incentives designed to spur the purchase of supposedly cleaner diesel cars and trucks.” “All manufacturers followed this political direction,” the European Automobile Manufacturers Association told the BBC in 2015. While the move made Europe’s overall air “cleaner” than many other places,“it still can be and often is — deadly.”
He noted that nitrogen dioxide was linked to a host of health complications.
“It’s been a public health catastrophe on an unimaginable scale,” said Simon Birkett, founder and director of the advocacy group Clean Air in London. “We’ll probably never know the full extent of the impact.”