Labour MEPs voted today for an objection calling on the European Commission to come back with stronger proposals for a swift introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing - but the objection fell by 323-312 votes, with Tory MEPs voting against.
The objection called for more stringent emission tests for cars, reflecting pollution emitted on the road and not just in laboratories.
Labour MEPs have been calling for the introduction of a new RDE test procedure for years so that cars comply with emission limits set by the EU almost ten years ago - yet the proposed draft Regulation agreed in October by the Commission and national governments, including the UK, will allow manufacturers to bring to the market vehicles emitting more than double the amount of nitrogen oxides set by current standards.
Neena Gill MEP said:
"The proposal put in front of us did not go far enough to address the scandal of tens of thousands of people dying prematurely each year in the UK because of dirty air and lacked the certainty needed for future investment by the car industry.
"Air pollution in some of our UK cities is amongst the worst in the EU with 38 zones currently exceeding limits for nitrogen dioxide, a harmful gas linked to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. In my constituency of London alone, more than 10,000 people are dying each year because of bad air quality.
"The whole process has been a shambles. It has taken years to get to this stage, only for the Commission, UK government, and other EU governments to convene a behind closed doors meeting at the last minute and water down the reforms.
"With some cars on the road currently spewing out 14 times above the legal limit for nitrogen oxides, the new test regime will still lead to improvements. We must now ensure there are no further delays to the introduction of RDE tests and that the process behind any future revisions is transparent, democratic and without last-minute surprises."