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By Andrew Follett
Former chief scientist Sir David King admitted Wednesday he was wrong in advising the U.K. government to encourage diesel vehicles to fight global warming.
King said the government overestimated the effectiveness of its programs to encourage diesel vehicles. King was the U.K.’s chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007 and until recently a special representative for climate change.
King advised the U.K. government to push programs to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and concluded that switch to diesel cars would be better for the environment.
“What was on our minds very heavily was how do we reduce carbon dioxide emissions given the challenge of climate change,” King told BBC Radio. “Diesel-driven vehicles can do more miles per gallon and it seemed an obvious way forward to go down the diesel route.”
Government support of diesel cars led to sophisticated cheating on the part of car companies to ignore environmental standards while pocketing subsidies. The car company Volkswagen pleaded guilty last month to charges that it cheated fuel emissions tests in 2015. The cheating allowed Volkswagen to fool regulators into thinking its diesel vehicles benefited the environment.
“What we were anticipating was that the Euro standards being met would mean that diesel manufacturers would have to reduce their NOx emissions,” King said. “It turns out we were wrong.”
Europe has tried to fight global warming with cap-and-trade schemes and lucrative financial support to green power since 2005. Though well-meaning, the continent’s environmental efforts haven’t decreased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and have raised power prices. Many of Europe’s anti-global warming policies have actually made the situation worse.
From 2005, when Europe adopted these policies, to 2014, residential electricity rates on the continent increased by 63 percent according to research by the Manhattan Institute. Over the same period, residential rates in the U.S. rose by 32 percent. Germany, Spain and the U.K, which intervened the most in their energy markets, saw their electricity bills rise the fastest.
Polling indicates that 38 percent of British households are cutting back essential purchases, like food, to pay for high energy bills. Another 59 percent of homes are worried about how they are going to pay energy bills.
Brits alone paid a whopping 54 percent more for electricity than Americans in 2014, while energy taxes cost residents roughly $6.6 billion every year. Green energy subsidies in the U.K regularly exceed spending caps and account for roughly 7 percent of British energy bills, according to government study released last July.