Diesel has been oft-cited as the more economical fuel, and this week we have seen a huge drop in its price compared to petrol. However with more oil refineries shutting down every year, and the environmental impact of diesel becoming ever-clearer, we may need to start reconsidering our favour for it. There’s no getting away from the fact that we are running out of diesel. And current emissions data does not make for pleasant reading. So, what exactly are we supposed to do? And is there a viable, greener alternative?
The clean fuel myth
It wasn’t all that long ago that we were taught diesel was the cleaner fuel, and that we would be doing our bit for Mother Earth by getting a diesel motor. We were led to believe that our diesel cars emitted less carbon dioxide than the petrol counterparts. In fact, we were duped. They are almost identical to petrol emissions, and they kick out all sort of other nasties too, such as soot and particulates. It’s fair to say that their clean image is rather undeserved.
Is there an alternative?
Most of us are wise to this by now, and it’s not the first time the nation has been won over by clever marketing (weren’t cigarettes marketed as health items originally?). Yet diesel vehicles retain huge popularity. Increased fuel efficiency = cheaper running costs. Unluckily for the thrifty amongst us we are not blessed with an unlimited source of the stuff. Therefore even if the dangerous emissions don’t bother you, the fact that we will one day run out should.
Now that the diesel illusion has been well and truly shattered, what’s a petrolhead (or should that be diesel-head?) to do? Run for the hills to buy a Prius? Or you could explore the wide range of greener diesel alternatives on the market currently. There’s natural gas, ethanol, propane, you’ve even got diesel’s friendlier cousin: bio-diesel. These aren’t available en masse yet and it may be some years before they are, but something is going to have to be done soon. The government is being lobbied for increased tax, and a surplus congestion charge on diesel vehicles. Diesel may not be the cheaper fuel for much longer.
What do you think about diesel’s image? Should we be making moves now to find something greener? Or do you trust in the car manufacturers to help improve emissions? Let us know in the comments.