Britain’s Supreme Court has ordered the Department for the Environment to propose new air quality plans by the end of 2015, according to The Telegraph. As the UK faces up to being fined by the European Commission for failing to meet nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, the move could see demand for diesel vehicles diminish greatly, as environmental groups have singled out oil burners due to the high levels of NO2 emissions.

The report adds that research has concluded that the UK isn’t up to satisfying the requirements of article 13 of the EU Air Quality Directive (which demanded that NO2 levels be reduced to 40 micrograms of per cubic metre by 2010), nor will it even past the year 2030 given present projections. A total of 38 out of 43 zones in the region currently report levels of NO2 emissions beyond stipulated levels.

The majority of Britain’s motoring public have opted to go diesel, with numbers of such vehicles climbing to over 11 million from 1.6 million over the past decade. The reason for the rise was attributed to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s push for diesel vehicles to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. However, NO2 emissions were doubled as a result, with said gas linked to thousands of deaths annually.

With that said, the repercussions from having diesel vehicles phased out throughout the UK would be dramatic, to say the least. Edmund King of the Automobile Association (AA) has stated that the 11 million buyers of diesel vehicles would feel “betrayed.” He added that “the demonising of diesel vehicles… won’t just affect big polluting trucks, but taxi drivers and families with people-carriers as well.”

renault zoe

On the commercial side of things, the phasing out of diesel vehicles will most definitely affect businesses that rely heavily on road transport. “Any movement away from diesel-engined vehicles would have significant supply chain implications. Businesses will be hoping that any plans be offset by incentives that will enable them to switch to greener models,” said Richard Gane of supply chain company, Vendigital.

The French government appears to have echoed Gane’s sentiments as it will now offer incentives of up to €10,000 (RM40,019) to consumers who wish to replace their diesel vehicles with electric units instead. “”We have to eliminate old diesel cars that are more than 13 years old and have no filters,” French energy minister Segolene Royal told Bloomberg.

As of now, about 80% of the French motoring public operate diesel vehicles. However, the proposed incentive could help reduce that statistic in the near future as a Renault Zoe EV would only cost €12,400 (RM49,674) while a Nissan Leaf EV is expected to carry a price tag of €14,390 (RM57,646).

In France, diesel is taxed lower than petrol, leading to more consumers purchasing diesel-engined cars over its petrol counterparts. Aside from providing incentives, the French government will now “gradually” align taxes on diesel and petrol to encourage motorists to make the switch from fossil fuel to electric energy.