ClientEarth has launched legal action against the European Commission over new car emissions test rules it claims will open up another “dieselgate” scandal.
The environmental law group argues the rules will allow car manufacturers to keep their emissions control systems secret from the public.
It is attempting to force the car industry to explain to the public how the devices they use in their vehicles affect emissions on the road as opposed to in test conditions.
In the dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen was caught using software to cheat emissions tests.
The new regulation requires car manufacturers to explain the impact of their emission control systems to national type approval authorities – which in the UK is the Vehicle Certification Agency – but allows the information to remain confidential from the public.
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “The dieselgate scandal showed us we couldn’t rely on these national approval authorities to protect the public and how damaging secretive behaviour by car manufacturers over emissions can be.
“The illegal levels of air pollution in towns and cities across this country are down in large part to diesel vehicles. A cosy stitch-up between manufacturers and the authorities will do nothing to reassure the public that the industry has learned its lesson after dieselgate.”
The Commission said it is “very concerned” about the health of EU citizens but it will not comment on ongoing legal cases.
A spokesperson added: “Real Driving Emissions testing will make it very difficult to circumvent emission requirements and includes an obligation for manufacturers to declare their emissions reduction strategy at type approval, as is the case in the US.
“EU law now also requires manufacturers to declare the maximum value of NOx emissions and the maximum PN in Real Driving Emissions tests in the certificate of conformity of each vehicle.”