London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across the whole city next year.
He has asked Transport for London to consult on the proposal which would mean that motorists in vehicles that do not meet emissions standards would have to pay £12.50 (US$16.48) a day to drive in Greater London.
Khan said the expansion is necessary to tackle the “triple challenges” of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion.
The ULEZ was extended to the north and south circular roads last October, making it 18 times larger than previously, to cover a quarter of the city. It operates in addition to the longstanding Congestion Charge.
In weighing up options, Khan ruled out introducing a daily £3.50 Greater London Boundary Charge for vehicles driving into London and a low-level daily Clean Air Charge for all but the cleanest vehicles. He said the decision was based on the scheme that would have the biggest effect on reducing emissions and congestion relative to the potential financial impact on Londoners as a whole.
It is estimated that extending the ULEZ to the whole of Greater London would reduce NOx emissions from cars and vans by between 285 and 330 tonnes, cut CO2 emissions in outer London by between 135,000 and 150,000 tonnes, and reduce the most polluting cars on the roads by as many as 40,000 a day.
Khan commented: “The triple challenges of tackling toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion mean we need to further reduce emissions from vehicles in London. We simply don’t have time to waste.
“This is also a matter of social justice – with air pollution hitting the poorest communities the hardest. Nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car, but they are disproportionally feeling the damaging consequences polluting vehicles are causing.”
City Hall said toxic air caused by traffic is leading to stunted lung growth in children and almost 4,000 premature deaths a year – mainly in London’s outer boroughs. It has found that all of London’s hospitals, medical centres and care homes are in areas that breach the World Health Organization’s guidelines for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.
A recent report concluded that in order to meet the target of getting to net-zero in London by 2030, car traffic must reduce by at least 27 percent in the capital by the end of the decade. The Mayor’s Office also cited Inrix analysis which found that vehicle congestion cost the capital £5.1 billion last year.
Khan said the fairest long-term solution would be to replace all existing road user charges with a ‘smart’ pay-per-mile system which would allow for different rates to be charged depending on how polluting vehicles are, the level of congestion in the area and access to public transport. However, the implementation and the technology to support such a scheme is still “many years away”.
Inspiration for cities
Mark Watts, Executive Director at C40 Cities, the climate network that Sadiq Khan is Chair of, commented: “What London is doing will be keenly watched across the world, inspiring many other mayors to invest in cleaner, greener, and fairer cities.”
Khan said he would help charities, small businesses and vulnerable Londoners adapt to the potential London-wide ULEZ with “as big a scrappage scheme as is feasible”.
The proposed London-wide ULEZ will be subject to impact assessment and public and stakeholder consultation.
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