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Published on July 9th, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Think Blue – Reducing Carbon Emissions With Every VW Sold

When we think “global warming”, we think of it as a relatively new and recent issue, but the truth is that it’s been the subject of debate since 1988. The resulting Kyoto Protocol and its members aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over a relatively long period, so as to reduce the rate of global warming.
Germany, as part of the European Union, has worked hard to meet their targets (and in some cases, exceeded them). But it took a lot of hard work and cooperation from their industrial sector, and most notable of these is the automotive industry.
In order to meet their targets not only must their manufacturing processes be optimized, but their cars as well. How the EU regulates their car emissions is through the use of European Emission Standards, commonly denoted by “EURO” followed by a number. The framework for these emission standards only addresses toxic outputs, such as Carbon Monoxide, unburnt hydrocarbons and Nitrogen Oxides. While these standards in themselves are tough to meet, with tighter restrictions every 4-5 years, they do not consider the carbon dioxide output of vehicles.
Carbon dioxide is not the nastiest of the greenhouse gasses involved in global warming, but it is by far the largest component. The combination of industrial processes and the increasing number of vehicles on the road is what increases the level of carbon dioxide production. In 2007, the European Commission attempted to draft a law to limit vehicle carbon dioxide emissions, but it met heavy resistance from certain car manufacturers who were a long way off from reaching the proposed targets.
That doesn’t stop car manufacturers from trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and it certainly doesn’t stop Volkswagen’s Think Blue concept from being put into play. In certain markets like the UK, vehicle emissions are a legal requirement for brochure information, for the environmentally conscious buyer. In addition to this, vehicle tax in the UK can be based on carbon dioxide emissions as opposed to engine size or fuel type, which means the appeal for a car with low carbon dioxide emissions can be very high.

It is impossible to have a car that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide, unless it runs purely on hydrogen or is a full electric car (though even then, how the electricity is produced may result in higher emissions as well). The carbon dioxide is a simple by-product of the burning of fuel, and the best way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is to improve fuel efficiency. The idea is simple: burn less fuel per kilometre, and you get less carbon dioxide per kilometre. This way of thinking is what has sparked the trend of downsizing engines and adding forced induction, with engines such as Volkswagen’s 1.4 TSI powerplant leading the charge.
Volkswagen Group consists of a good number companies, so it has a high potential for environmental impact. The result of their efforts are 245 vehicles that produce less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, and a further 36 vehicles which produce under 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. Their commitments have definitely contributed to Germany’s carbon dioxide reductions in a large way, given how many cars they have on the road.

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