DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.com PLC.
Teodora Serafimova is a manager at the environmental NGO Bellona. With its headquarters in Oslo, Bellona has played a central role in initiating Norway’s electric revolution: from importing the country’s first modern electric vehicle (EV) in 1989, to fostering the introduction by the government of the first EV friendly policies, Bellona today seeks to replicate this success story onto the EU level from its Brussels office.
New studies emerge on a nearly daily basis linking up an ever growing number of illnesses and health risks to air pollution from conventionally fueled road transport. In fact, the European Environmental Agency has identified poor air quality as the single largest environmental health hazard on the continent, resulting in an estimated 467,000 premature deaths per year.
Road transport is to blame for the lion’s share of health damaging local air pollution, being the largest source of NOx emissions (46% of total EU emissions) as well as particulate matter (PM). The Dieselgate scandal has shown that systematic fraudulent emission testing practices have helped car makers achieve significant profit, amounting to roughly €7 billion, from cheating their way into compliance with EU regulations. The bill has instead been paid by society – in the form of deadly air pollution levels and reduced quality and length of European lives. In fact, one in three Europeans living in cities today endure air quality deemed illegal under EU air quality standards.
So what if this heavy human health cost was to be borne by fossil car makers, and reflected in ICE cars’ price tags?