Volvo Car UK has launched an 'Emissions Equality' campaign which aims to encourage UK car buyers to think "about a car’s complete emissions picture, rather than just CO2 in isolation".
The Swedish firm is proposing the adoption of a labelling scheme for new and used cars that details an engine's emissions of nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulates as well as CO2. Unlike CO2, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulates are locally harmful to human health.
This information is already held on government databases for all cars sold in the UK since 2001. Volvo is also launching an application for phones and computers which intends to give drivers access to this "total emissions information".
The labelling scheme would mimic the one used in the US, which gives a 1-10 score for both a car’s "Greenhouse Gas" and "Air pollution" emissions.
Volvo claims that there are dramatic differences in the output of 'non-CO2' pollutants from cars sold in UK. It says that the a 2.5-litre petrol-engined Volvo V70 generates some 201mg/km of 'non-CO2' pollutants, compared with the 484mg/km emitted by a 1.4-litre Fiat 500 equipped with a start-stop system.
Volvo's campaign comes in the wake of threats by the EU to levy fines of up to £300m on the UK because of the country's poor air quality.
According to Professor Frank Kelly of Kings College, London there are 4300 premature deaths in London every year, and 50,000 across the UK, as a result of air pollution, 70 per cent of which comes from road transport.
Professor Kelly says that the lungs of children in inner city areas are particularly vulnerable to roadside particulate pollution, which is generated almost entirely by diesel traffic.