2017-02-17. A Push for Diesel Leaves London Gasping Amid Record Pollution.

posted Feb 18, 2017, 8:00 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Feb 18, 2017, 8:03 PM ]

By Kimiko de Freitas-Tamura, The New York Times. For GSS Energy Use chapter 9. Excerpt: LONDON — Every winter, as if on cue, the coughing begins. ...Tara Carey... coughs at work. And she coughs while cycling to her office, on a road so toxic that for a brief period last month the air pollution there was greater than in infamously smoggy Beijing. ...In Ms. Carey’s view, she said the only reasonable explanation for her illness was the pollution to which she was exposed over the last six years cycling through thick traffic on Brixton Road, one of London’s busiest and most noxious routes. ...London is choking from record levels of pollution, much of it caused by diesel cars and trucks, as well as wood-burning fires in private homes, a growing trend. It has been bad enough to evoke comparisons to the Great Smog of December 1952, when fumes from factories and house chimneys are thought to have killed as many as 12,000 Londoners. That crisis led to the landmark Clean Air Act in 1956. ...London’s air pollution today is different from seven decades ago, and more insidious. No longer thick as “pea soup,” as it was traditionally described, the city’s air is now laced with nitrogen dioxide — a toxic gas mostly produced by vehicles with diesel engines. The pollution is linked to 23,500 deaths in Britain each year, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  ...The current problem is, in part, an unintended consequence of previous efforts to aid the environment. The British government provided financial incentives to encourage a shift to diesel engines because laboratory tests suggested that would cut harmful emissions and combat climate change. Yet, it turned out that diesel cars emit on average five times as much emissions in real-world driving conditions as in the tests, according to a British Department for Transport study. “No one at the time thought of the consequences of increased nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel, and the policy of incentivizing diesel was so successful that an awful lot of people bought diesel cars,” said Anna Heslop, a lawyer at ClientEarth.... Air pollution is a more significant public health hazard in China, India and Eastern Europe, where the average annual levels of PM2.5 pollution, the fine soot particles and molecules that pose the greatest danger to health, are up to 10 times as high as in London. But in mid-January in Brixton, ...hourly mean levels of PM2.5 were higher than in Beijing....  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/world/europe/london-smog-air-pollution.html