Diesel versus petrol: A case for life-cycle analysis

The Chancellor is being urged to give a tax boost to diesel cars on the grounds that they emit less carbon dioxide than their petrol equivalents. But the case for diesels is by no means clear cut - especially when the effects of impending pressures on the quality of diesel fuel on energy consumption and emissions at refineries are taken into account.

Motor industry and motorists' organisations have never been slow to advise the Chancellor on what he should do to favour their cause. In the last two years, an increasingly vocal lobby for incentives to encourage a shift from petrol to diesel cars has made itself heard in the run-up to the Budget statement.

Diesel cars, it is argued, are quite unfairly disadvantaged by the present tax regime. The duty differential between diesel and unlea

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