London drivers have abandoned diesel cars six times faster than those in the rest of the UK since Sadiq Khan announced plans for a massive expansion of London’s clean air zone.
A study published days before the deployment of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) in the capital shows that there are around 128,000 fewer diesel cars on the city’s roads than in 2018, when the mayor announced plans to create one of the largest clean air zones in Europe.
Oliver Lord, Head of Clean Cities Campaign UK, which conducted the research, said: “The expansion of the ultra-low emissions zone is monumental and has supercharged the end of diesel cars in London.
But he said Khan had to go further if he was to achieve his goal of making London carbon neutral by 2030. He added: “There is only one way forward: cars to gasoline and diesel. Active, shared and electric mobility in. ”
Plans for central London Ulez were unveiled in 2017 and a year later Khan announced that he would be deployed in the North and South Circulars – a ring road around the capital.
Under the scheme, the expanded version of which comes into force on Monday, the most polluting vehicles will be charged £ 12.50 per day for cars, vans and motorcycles and £ 100 for coaches and heavy goods vehicles. Gasoline vehicles registered before 2005 and diesel vehicles before 2015 are liable to be subject to the charge.
Global air pollution cuts the lives of billions of people for up to six years, making it far more fatal than smoking, car crashes or HIV / AIDS. A battery of recent scientific reports reveals that it could damage every organ and virtually every cell in the human body and is responsible for 8.8 million premature deaths each year.
Last year, a study found that the health costs of road air pollution are higher in London than in any other city in Europe, with children and the elderly often the most affected.
According to the study, there was a 15% reduction in the number of diesel cars in London between 2017 and 2020, more than six times the trend seen elsewhere in the UK. This drop in polluting diesels has contributed to a drastic reduction in toxic air in the capital, with a 94% drop in the number of people living in areas with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide between 2016 and 2019.
Clean air activists have welcomed the expansion of the zone, which will come into effect on Monday. Jemima Hartshorn, founder of the Mums for Lungs campaign group, said the expanded area would protect millions more Londoners from toxic air. “This is an important moment in our fight for children to breathe clean air. The mayor must continue to push to get toxic diesel off our streets and protect the health of our children. “
Some fear that many motorists do not understand the details of the changes underway and campaigners are calling on the mayor to help the less fortunate to move away from older and polluting vehicles.
Although clean air campaigners and those concerned about the climate crisis have hailed Ulez’s expansion, many are angry that the mayor continues to push forward a new four-lane road tunnel under the River Thames.
Critics of the £ 2bn Silvertown Tunnel project, including climatologists, senior Labor politicians and medics, say the huge road-building program will worsen air pollution and block transport high carbon for generations.
Victoria Rance, of the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel campaign, said: “While we welcome the expansion of Ulez, the mayor cannot be taken seriously about the climate or air pollution as long as he insists to move this project forward. “