Responding to public outrage over the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, the European Union rightly pledged to toughen emissions testing and enforce limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx), a hazardous type of diesel pollutant. But those moves amount to very little, now that the EU is giving the auto industry until 2020 to comply, and then only partially. The delay will just prolong the shift away from diesel.
While it will be useful to have on-road testing, starting in 2017, EU regulators decided Wednesday to allow new car models to exceed legal levels of NOx by 110 percent until the beginning of 2020. Even after that, they can go over the limit by 50 percent. The adjustment period for existing car models is still longer.