National trade body, The Society For Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), claimed a shift away from diesel cars was primarily responsible for the first increase in UK exhaust emissions in twenty years.
On the up? Image: SMMT
The overall rise comes despite new cars available in the UK emitting 12.6% less CO2 than older equivalent models.
The SMMT lays the blame squarely on the UK government's anti-diesel agenda which, it claims, has sent mixed messages to consumers.
The outcome has been a 17% drop in new diesel registrations in 2017, despite new engine technology demonstrating significantly improved emissions. The SMMT highlights the light commercial vehicle sector, of which 96% is diesel-powered, delivering a new low of 165.4g/km, equating to a 4.8% CO2 reduction.
The organisation pointed out that overall new engine efficiency was not enough to offset the drop in diesel sales, as petrol equivalents emit an average 15-20% more CO2 when fuel consumption is taken into account.
The latest figures also show a disappointing uptake in electric vehicles with more than a fifth of new car models now available are zero emission-capable yet, according to the SMMT, they account for just 5% of UK sales. For pure battery-powered vehicles, take up is even lower at 0.5%.
The numbers led to a warning from the SMMT that the UK was in serious danger of missing its 2021 emissions targets.
According to Chief Executive, Mike Hawes: "The anti-diesel agenda has set back progress on climate change, while electric vehicle demand remains disappointingly low amid consumer concerns around charging infrastructure availability and affordability. Now more than ever, we need a strategy that allows manufacturers time to invest, innovate and sell competitively, and which gives consumers every incentive to adapt."
Published 28th February, 2018
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