The environmental group has written to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Environment Secretary Liz Truss, posing four questions:
- Did the government know before this month about the existence of so-called ‘defeat devices’?
- If it did, what did it do to combat efforts by car manufacturers to fix emissions tests?
- If the government was aware of the existence of ‘defeat devices’, did it discuss the issue with manufacturers of diesel cars? If so, how many meetings took place, who attended and what was the outcome?
- What action did the government take to investigate the reported discrepancies between NOx measurements registered in testing, and so-called ‘on the road’ performance, in which NOx emissions were substantially higher?
Greenpeace has also today published figures showing the extent of lobbying in Brussels by manufacturers of so-called low-emission diesel cars.
Publicly available industry data shows that in 2014, manufacturers of diesel vehicles built to comply with the European Union's new emissions standards, known as Euro 6, spent up to €18.5 million lobbying the EU and employed 184 lobbyists. This included 51 lobbyists who were granted passes giving them access to European Parliament premises.
Volkswagen alone employed 43 lobbyists and spent €3.3 million lobbying in Brussels, making it one of the biggest spenders on lobbying in the EU. The figures, drawn from the EU’s voluntary transparency register, are likely to be a conservative estimate of actual lobbying spend as they are provided by the companies themselves and are not independently reviewed.
In a written answer to a German parliamentary question, the transport ministry in Berlin said on July 28 that both the German government and the European Commission were aware of “defeat devices” - the industry name for the software that allowed VW to cheat emissions tests. In its answer, the ministry wrote that it shared “the view of the European Commission that there is no extensively proven means of preventing defeat devices.”
Greenpeace activists also turned up today outside the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, where the company’s board is meeting. They displayed a banner with the slogan: ‘No more lies!’.
John Sauven, Greenpeace UK executive director, said:
“As evidence emerges that the German government and the European Commission knew about the test-cheating software, people will be wondering why it took the Americans to expose it. The extent of the car makers’ lobbying power could provide some clues to the answer
"This scandal is not about a slide in a company’s share price, it’s about heart attacks, lung disease and loss of life. Air pollution has for too long been the great neglected environmental emergency.
“The UK government has been caught lobbying on behalf of polluters from the transport and power sectors before. It’s time for our ministers to be completely transparent on what they knew and when about the pollution fix scandal. Many people will want to know which matters more to our government - the polluters’ profits or the health of their citizens.”
Greenpeace press office - 0207 865 8255
Pictures of the Greenpeace demo at the VW HQ: http://photo.greenpeace.org/C.aspx?VP3=SearchResult_VPage&STID=27MZIFJ6AJK8T