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IMechE president responds to Lord Drayson's criticism of diesel cars

01 October 2015

Lord Drayson, a science minister during Gordon Brown's premiership, has strongly criticised a former Labour government's policy with regard to diesel cars.

Lord Drayson (courtesy of Drayson Technologies)

Lord Drayson has told the BBC that the promotion of diesel cars by a former Labour government was mistaken, and that these cars are "now killing people". Responding, Professor Richard Folkson, president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said:

“We should not be responding to the Volkswagen crisis with knee-jerk reactions.  This is the time to look closely at the information as it emerges and take more considered views on the best way forward.

"We should not be rushing to scrap diesel cars when they clearly make a considerable contribution to reducing carbon emissions in the UK.  If all new fossil fuel cars were to be solely petrol tomorrow for example, our average carbon emissions would increase by 16 percent.  That cannot be in our interests as we approach COP21 in Paris in December where we are seeking to limit our impact on climate change.

Professor Richard Folkson

“What we need is a rapid introduction of a new testing regime that much more accurately reflects driver behaviour.  That way we will have the accurate and transparent data to allow consumers to make informed choices.

"We engineers should then carry on doing what we have been doing successfully for the last forty years which is to improve both the engines and the exhaust treatment systems to mean emissions for all engine types continue to reduce.

"Diesel has many attractive characteristics which means it is going to be part of that progress.  This is not the time to restrict our choices by casting it aside.”

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