petrol and diesel consumption rose by 45 percent in the European Union between
1985 and 1998, technological improvements meant pollution by emissions such as
nitrogen oxide actually fell during this time, a study from EU statistical agency
Across the continent there were wide national variations in the increase of
fuel consumption, from 139 percent in Portugal, to 21 percent in Sweden.
Luxembourg topped the list with 149 percent, but its figures were inflated
by cross-border fuel sales, because of low prices.
Elsewhere, other large increases were registered in Spain, (104 percent), and
Ireland, (92 percent), both countries that were comparatively poor in 1985 and
which have since enjoyed significant economic growth.
Relatively small increases in consumption were also noted for Finland, (26
percent), the Netherlands, (33 percent), Britain and Denmark, (34 percent),
Austria, (35 percent), and Germany, (36 percent).
Intermediate growth was found in France, (39 percent), Italy, (46 per cent),
Belgium, (47 percent), and Greece, (69 percent).
Looking at the growing figure for the EU, Eurostat concluded that this was
“mainly due to a steady growth in diesel fuel consumption, responsible
for more than 75 percent of the EU total increase.”
Regarding pollution, between 1980 and 1998, the EU saw a 25 percent drop in
nitrogen oxides and also in non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs),
both emissions for which road transport is largely responsible.
However, here again there were wide variations nationally, with NOx pollution
actually growing by one percent in Ireland compared with a drop of 49 percent
in Germany and equally marked contrasts being recorded for NMVOCs.
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