They’re not thinking this through, are they?

A new diesel car scrappage scheme will be targeted at the most polluted areas under plans being considered by ministers, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

Car owners will only be able to qualify for cash to scrap their diesel vehicles if they are old enough and registered at an address where air pollution is already at dangerous levels.

Because it’s not where the car lives that’s the problem, it’s where it is driven. And poor areas tend to be where lots of cars a driven a lot….not because we all go touring for poverty porn but because areas with masses of traffic are less desirable and thus cheaper.

25 thoughts on “They’re not thinking this through, are they?”

  1. A British company is developing the technology for diesel engines to run mainly on natural gas. For many years forklift trucks that work in buildings have used LNG as you get much cleaner exhaust.
    It would be cost effective to run diesel lorries, vans, trains and taxis on the technology as they run for many more hours a day than the average car which spends most of its time parked. It would also be cheaper for the companies that use them.
    A good reason to press on with fracking.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    To the extent that the poor that live in these areas could afford cars they are more likely to be old and poorly maintained and so more polluting than those that drive in to those areas.

    Not that that justifies the policy because all that will happen is that they will use the money to go outside the area and buy another cheaper poorly maintained car.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    OT but of relevance to the poor buying cars:

    “Is it a good idea have a ceiling on the interest rate, be that zero or some positive rate.
    We study the effects of interest rate ceilings on the market for automobile loans. We find that loan contracting and the organization of the loan market adjust to facilitate loans to risky borrowers. When usury restrictions bind, automobile dealers finance a greater share of their customers’ purchases, which allows them to price credit risk through the mark-up on the product sale rather than the loan interest rate. Despite having little effect on who receives credit, usury limits therefore have a substantial effect on who provides credit and on the terms of credit granted. Usury limits may harm defaulting borrowers, who face greater liabilities in default than they would if loan contracts were unconstrained.”

  4. Since most pollution (in London anyway) comes from busses and commercial vehicles, with central heating the second highest cause, perhaps they are starting in the wrong place?
    Regardless of origin, I’d bet that polution levels today are at a record low, so why the panic?

  5. I see this more as a cunning ruse to limit the cost of the scheme. Government can say they are helping diesel car owners, while if anyone complains they can wail “won’t somebody think of the poor children?”

  6. Obviously it’s where the vehicle is driven that counts, not where the owner lives; but if you live in e.g. east London then the chances are you spend a lot of your driving time in and around east London.

    It’s hard to think of a better solution which doesn’t create perverse incentives. I’d suggest adding an emissions check to the annual MOT test, then offering to scrap the worst 5% of vehicles each year. But that creates a perverse incentive for owners of old-but-clean vehicles to tip half a litre of engine oil into the fuel tank, thus creating dirty emissions during the test.

    Obviously if you don’t believe emissions are a problem, then it’s all irrelevant. But assuming that they are, how would you solve it?

  7. Forget scrappage which is an expensive and perverse (and not green) solution, ratchet up emissions control in the MOT and encourage after market urea injection systems.

  8. Since the usual way to deal with negative externalities is through the tax system, perhaps .gov should double the level of duty applied to diesel?

  9. Just how dangerous are diesel cars? How much more dangerous than petrol cars? Anyone know? If the most polluting thing gets 100 on the pollutionometer what do diesel and petrol get? I suppose I’m trying to work out if there is any proportionality here. If (say) diesel scored 4/100 and petrol 3/100 then you could argue that diesel is 1/3 more polluting but in the scheme of things neither is particularly polluting. If they are talking of extra tax and scrappage and snipers on rooftops then you’d think diesel would be both very polluting and much more so than petrol. Anyone know the answers?

  10. Bloke in Wiltshire

    One problem is that it’s hard to deal with.

    I know some blokes in the parking meter industry and we were talking about Khan’s idea of higher parking charges and no, the data isn’t there. The guys doing the ticketing don’t know if the car is diesel or petrol.

    For me, there’s a very simple answer: move house if you don’t like living in the polluted shithole of London. I don’t get opera houses and popup cafes, but I get cleaner air.

  11. BiWilts: I know some blokes in the parking meter industry and we were talking about Khan’s idea of higher parking charges and no, the data isn’t there.

    Refer the blokes in the parking meter industry to him who Changed the World of Data.

  12. It is an expensive song-and-dance about nowt and Dress-Up and her gang are right in the middle of it. As always.

    Is there no one with the balls to say “Piss on your eco-freak emissions? And on you eco-freak scum”

  13. What Clarissa said

    Tim, you’re a fan of the carbon tax. Isn’t this a logical extension?

    And if tax neutral (ha-ha), one could lower the existing petrol tax marginally for the equivalent increase in diesel? Job done?

    And poor areas tend to be where lots of cars a driven a lot … because areas with masses of traffic are less desirable and thus cheaper

    Is this true? Any major city centre tends to be where pollution is highest?

  14. This is about the runway at Heathrow.
    They promised that the increase in diesel fueled planes would be offset by a reduction in pollution from road vehicles.
    There was to be no overall reduction but no increase either.

  15. Cash for clunkers increases the price of second hand cars and disproportionately affects the poor.

    Treeza Treeza Treeza, Out! Out! Out!

    Diesel planes? Really?

  16. Yes, scrappage/cash for clunkers is perverse. It is the destruction of assets paid for by the taxpayer.

    This is just another case of government messing up proposing more government as the solution.

    Best solution? Leave the air polluted as a reminder of what government does. See and smell the air? That’s what government does for you.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset – are the cars poorly maintained?
    I can understand buying old cars – when you haven’t much money then a car for a few hundred quid is OK. But is there a correlation with poorly maintained cars?
    How often do most people get their car serviced? Annually? Those doing lots of mileage probably more often but for most of us doing 10k a year or less will probably be annually.
    Does a car need a service more often?

  18. Just how dangerous are diesel cars? How much more dangerous than petrol cars?

    Used be far more dangerous, to the extent that any air pollution from vehicles is dangerous. About ten years ago the Greenies were pushing a study which claimed tens of thousands of people died every year from pollution from vehicles, but it had the usual ‘but most of these people would probably have died within the next couple of weeks, anyway’ disclaimer. And, when you read it closely, you also discovered that half the deaths were from diesels and the other half from petrol vehicles were basically made up, because they had no data to show any harm at all.

    In other words, they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to prove any hazard at all.

    But, these days, the push for direct injection to improve fuel efficiency seems to be producing more of the same kind of particulates that make diesel more dangerous.

  19. “that make diesel more dangerous”

    More dangerous? What’s next, dangerousest?

    Neither are dangerous, anyway.

  20. At least I’ve finally seen someone else mention the downside to cash for clunkers, higher used car prices for the poor. With as bad as cash for clunkers was for the poor, car prices more than doubled, at least it ended quickly.

    If we really cared about the poor we’d end the program that drives up housing prices in poor neighborhoods, section 8. Who in their right mind thought giving landlords a check for 24% of the total sales price of a house every month wouldn’t cause major problems?

  21. No prizes for guessing who is really behind this of course. Certainly it could never be the car-makers hoping to sell another great raft of £7-8k cars with £1k contributed by the government, while driving up the bottom end price of cheap to run old bangers to a floor of around £2k… totally implausible.

    It’s difficult to think of a worse sort of government intervention. It hurts the poor by making old cars expensive. It hurts taxpayers because they have to throw money at the problem.
    All to “solve” a problem that won’t be around in 10 years time anyway as the offending vehicles are all 15-20 years old now, and in 10 years time the numbers of them still running will be negligible.

    It’s been a while since I found myself so angry about the sheer stupidity of the fools that we permit to rule us.

  22. “Cash for clunkers” put my mechanic out of business. His clientele was people with older cars.

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