Volkswagen – No Laughing Gas
Volkswagen may yet be labelled the worst eco-bandit in memory and maybe for a long time to come. Our calculations show that Volkswagen’s gimmickry led to greenhouse gas emissions (combined emissions from putting 11 millions vehicles on the road over 6 years) at a level between 28% and 57% of Canada’s greenhouse gases emissions in 2013.
Canada’s oilsands produce 8.5% of Canada’s emissions. Here we’re speaking about putting vehicles on the road for 6 years and collectively these vehicles emitted 3.5 to 7.1 times the emissions of Canada’s oilsand projects in a year.
Considering Canada’s contribution to the global greenhouse gases emissions, Volkswagen is directly responsible for the emission (6 years combined) to roughly a quarter to half a percent of the global emissions from a single year.
By the admissions of its former CEO the hitherto sensible German automaker Volkswagen has cheated all of us by conniving a scheme that under-reports nitrous oxide emissions (N2O). Despite a flurry of finger pointing and indignation, we are overlooking the environmental significance of the fraud.
Our data show that we cannot dismiss the environmental impact caused by Volkswagen.
According to Volkswagen there are 11,000,000 vehicles in operation worldwide. These were sold between 2009 and now. In the first line of the table below I have assumed that the sales of the 11 million cars took place evenly over 6 years.
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Let’s assume that the average car travels 15,000 miles per annum (Line 2 of the table).
The US EPA Tier 2 standards requires that nitrogen oxide emissions not exceed 0.07 grams per mile for engines at full useful life which is defined as either 120,000 miles or 150,000 miles depending on the vehicle and optional certification choices (Line 3 of the table).
According to news report the standards were exceeded up to 35 times. Therefore to calculate the upper limits of emissions I have multiplied the standards by 35 (Line 4 of the table).
But for the sake of fairness in Line 5, I deducted the base standards from the 35X reported in Line 5, which gives us the amount of grams of N2O emissions per car per annum.
To calculate Line 6 I multiplied the number of out of spec cars on the road by the emissions and divided by 1 million, which is the number of grams per tonne. This gives us the N2O emissions. But N2O has a greenhouse gases warming potential that is 300 times greater than CO2, which is the IPCC standard. Therefore, I calculated Line 7 by multiplying Line 6 by 300.
In Line 8, I calculated the total CO2 equivalent emissions from 2009 to 2014 to arrive to 412,334,946 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.To err on the side of caution, it seems not all engines and conditions lead to 35X the US EPA standards. Therefore I calculated a 50% discount factor to arrive to a lower emission boundary of 206,167,473 tonnes per annum.
For context, Canada emitted 726,000,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2013.
The math is frighteningly simple: by deceit Volkswagen led to combined increased emissions (over a period of six years) that are between 28-57% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2013.
When countries meet to negotiate reductions of greenhouse gases emissions a percentage point is critical.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>