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Editorial: Diesel Drivers Pay The Price Of Green Zealotry

As confessions of incompetence go, Sir David King’s admission that he was absolutely wrong to advocate diesel cars could hardly be more damning.

In his role as the former chief scientific adviser to the government – and until last month, special representative for climate change – this is a man on whom the public were entitled to rely for scrupulously impartial judgment, based on facts.


Yet now this fervent campaigner against carbon emissions admits he let himself be duped by carmakers who claimed they had solved the more toxic problem of nitrogen oxides spewed out by diesel engines.

His confession comes too late for millions who tried to do the environmentally friendly thing by switching from petrol after Labour cut diesel fuel duty in 2001.

Nor can it help those whose health has suffered from diesel pollutants, which are linked to dementia and childhood breathing problems and, most chilling of all, are said to contribute to thousands of deaths.

So will it be the carmakers – still fiddling emissions tests on an industry-wide scale – who are punished for their deceit? Or government advisers and politicians such as Lord Prescott, Neil Kinnock and Gordon Brown, who banged the drum for diesel?

No, with depressing predictability, those footing the bill for this huge blunder will be the families who did as they were advised.

They now face crippling charges for driving diesels in low-emission zones, while the resale value of their cars – the second-biggest purchase of their lives, after their homes – is sure to plummet. As for King, he gets a knighthood!

Listening to the likes of London mayor Sadiq Khan, anyone would think diesel owners were the villains. Yet aren’t they owed a massive apology by the politicians and advisers who misled them?

How many other crimes against the environment, health – and our wallets –have been committed in the name of green zealotry?

Full editorial