Which way to go on diesel?

The diesel scandals as well as moves to ban diesel cars in several cities and other factors are raising the pressure to come up with a plan to combat air pollution and provide clean mobility. Europe's commentators examine the options.

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Pravda (SK) /

Don't miss out on the future

Europe must take the conversion to e-mobility seriously, Pravda urges:

“The answers to the question of why we don't have any cars like the Tesla models here on the Old Continent are always pretty much the same: the Americans don't earn any money with them, they produce too few of them, etc. But Nokia also once claimed that Apple's iPhone was just a 'toy'. And where is the erstwhile number one on the mobile phone market now? And where is Apple? … You don't have to be a fan of electric cars. But we do have to be prepared for change. This is especially true for Slovakia, which is so proud of producing the highest number of cars per capita in the world.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

Enough words and more deeds

The political leaders should invest above all in infrastructure, Salzburger Nachrichten demands:

“In the medium and long term this is about the inevitable switch to battery-powered cars. … Governments must contribute to this process and change their strategy if the conversion to e-mobility is to be translated from words into deeds. All funding, whether open or concealed, for anything that burns fuel must cease. Instead of using tax money to steer the buying behaviour of individuals, governments must pump public money into infrastructure. Nothing will quell mankind's desire to be mobile. But in order to fulfil that desire without turning the world into a greenhouse everyone needs to change their way of thinking - and change course.”

Kainuun Sanomat (FI) /

Use transitional technology

The Finnish government has announced plans to cut emissions by 50 percent compared to 2005 by 2030. This goal can only be achieved by using biofuels, Kainuun Sanomat stresses:

“According to the government's emissions programme around 250,000 electric cars will be on Finland's roads by 2030, which represents less than 10 percent of the automobile stock. This optimistic goal will be nowhere near enough even to halve traffic emissions. It would reduce them by just five percent. In view of the emissions targets biofuels are a more simple and quicker alternative because they can be used in combination with today's combustion engines. In addition to electric cars, a substantial increase in the production of biofuels to be used until an adequate proportion of the cars in the country are electric will be necessary.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Give diesel a period of grace

The debate about the future of diesel misses the point, Die Welt complains:

“Diesel cars can't replace petrol cars because they produce too much carbon dioxide. If the market share of combustion engines goes up again, the German government can forget its climate targets. Then we'll have - quite rightly - the next climate debate. The diesel summit convened by the German government this week must therefore pull off the following balancing act: it must secure a period of grace for diesel to avoid effectively expropriating millions of car owners. And it must stipulate binding zero-emission cars quotas for the carmakers. Quotas that can be checked and that make 'cheating' impossible.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Revolutionise the combustion engine

Lidové noviny also believes diesel engines are being unjustly demonised:

“A 'clean' combustion engine needn't remain an impossible dream forever. The engineers can get that under control relatively quickly. Thanks to the fact that these engines have been developing for over 100 years it should be pretty easy to implement a 'revolution'. As far as the alternatives are concerned, no one really knows whether they are any better from an ecological point of view. … An electric car fuelled by a battery or fuel cell may produce fewer emissions locally, but during the production process far more emissions are produced than for a car with a combustion engine.”

L'Echo (BE) /

Don't be too hasty

L'Echo also warns against rash decisions:

“Deciding all of a sudden that diesel engines have no future, banning them and then firing up the coal power stations once more and using electric cars instead won't make the world a better place. On the contrary, mobility is an integral component of our daily lives, and in view of its impact on the planet a crucial issue. As with any challenge, the problem won't be solved with shock announcements or poker games. This is not about choosing between diesel or electric cars, just as little as it is about choosing between 'cars or nothing'. ... We must think carefully about how we design our cities, how we work and what consequences each of our journeys has. We must reflect on how useful they are and on their environmental footprint.”