By Gem Childe on 6th Mar 2017
The campaign group highlighted the finding in renewing its call for the chancellor to introduce a scrappage scheme in the Budget.
Friends of the Earth wants Philip Hammond to reform Vehicle Excise Duty and Company Car Taxation to incentivise the switch from polluting diesel vehicles to cleaner alternatives.
It is calling for a scrappage scheme targeted at the dirtiest diesels, paid for by an initial £800 charge for people buying new diesel vehicles – which would raise around £500 million for the Treasury. The scheme should also be used to encourage people to shift away from fossil fuel-powered cars and into clean cars and public transport, the group said.
Air pollution is linked to heart disease, lung cancer, worsening asthma and poor lung development in children and leads to the premature deaths of around 40,000 people every year in the UK. Road transport is the biggest problem for air pollution and diesel vehicles are the worst of all.
Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Oliver Hayes said: “It’s time for the chancellor to lift the fog of inaction on Britain’s filthy air with tough government measures on dirty diesel.
“A scrappage scheme is urgently needed to help drivers switch to less polluting vehicles – paid for by a one off charge on new diesel cars.
“How many more people will die prematurely before the government takes the necessary steps to clean up this mess?"
A nationwide citizen science air pollution experiment was launched by Friends of the Earth this month.