You might have noticed that all sorts of motoring costs are dictated nowadays by how much CO2 (carbon dioxide) a car produces.
The obvious one is road tax (or vehicle excise duty), but if you buy a new car you’ll also have to pay an additional fee based on CO2 emissions and in some cases even your parking charges can be based on how much CO2 comes out of your exhaust pipe.
Venture into London’s Congestion Charge zone and you’ll be exempt from paying only if your car emits less than 75g/km of CO2, which virtually no car does.
But what are CO2 emissions all about, and why the focus on them? It’s simple really; there’s an assumption that the planet is overheating because of humans ramping up the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
So, in an attempt to lower our CO2 emissions and slow climate change, the government is trying to get us to drive cleaner cars.
Why? Well, it’s simple. When fuel is burned, carbon dioxide is produced, and the more fuel an engine burns, the greater its CO2 emissions.
So buy a car with a smaller engine (which burns less fuel) and your CO2 emissions will be reduced.
The alternative to buying a car with a smaller engine is to go for a diesel rather than a petrol.
Although they do the same job, a diesel engine is completely different to a petrol engine, which is why they’re noisier and have very different driving characteristics.
More importantly though, a litre of diesel packs more energy than a litre of petrol, so you get more miles per gallon and hence lower CO2 emissions.