Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is continuing to make cleaning London’s foul air his signature policy. He is calling on vehicle manufacturers to contribute to his Air Quality Fund over the negative effects their diesel vehicles have on air quality and public health in the capital.
Khan has written to UK chiefs at BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen urging them to take serious action on diesel emissions. The manufacturers have already contributed up to £223m to the German government’s ‘Sustainable Mobility Fund for Cities’ and the mayor is now urging them to take action in London and the UK.
He has also written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, as part of his continued lobbying of central government to do more to tackle what he describes as the “biggest environmental public health crisis of a generation”.
He is calling on the authorities to secure contributions from vehicle manufacturers on the same scale as the £24bn received from Volkswagen (including fines, compensation and other settlements) in the US and £223m from German car manufacturers in Germany. So far, the UK government has only secured £1 million of funding.
Khan, said: “Londoners will be baffled by the double standards of these car manufacturers. On the one hand, they admit they’ve got to cut emissions from their vehicles, but they confine their funding to Germany alone. This is ridiculous, as their vehicles are driven all over Europe, including on London’s roads. They must apply the same approach across all the markets that they trade in.
“In July, the UK managing director of VW sat in my office and said they couldn’t contribute anything to fund cleaning up London’s air, but their German colleagues are providing money. Londoners will find that unacceptable.
“I am taking bold action to clean up London’s toxic air, but I can’t do it alone. The government must act urgently to secure a meaningful amount of funding from these manufacturers, which could help people to scrap the most polluting diesel vehicles and take these off our streets.”
Air pollution contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year in the city and affects Londoners throughout their lives, from smaller lungs in children to greater risk of dementia and strokes in older city dwellers.
Since his election, the Mayor has pinpointed the eradication of pollution as one of main goals to improve the health of Londoners by cleaning up the city’s toxic air. When the T-charge is introduced on 23 October, it will be the toughest emission standard of any city in the world, helping remove older polluting vehicles from central London.
Road transport is responsible for around half of NOx emissions in the capital, and around 90% of these emissions are caused by diesel vehicles.
KHAN’S CLEAN AIR REVOLUTION
•Introducing an Emissions Surcharge (dubbed the ‘T-Charge) on top of the Congestion Charge, which will help remove older polluting vehicles from central London this year (starting 23 October 2017).
•Launching the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which puts in place minimum emission standards for all vehicles (excluding taxis, whose emissions are addressed through separate licensing requirements). The Mayor proposes (subject to consultation) to apply these standards in central London from 8 April 2019, which has been brought forward from September 2020. They will then apply, in outer London for buses, coaches and lorries by 2020 and in inner London for all vehicles except taxis by 2021 (subject to consultation).
•Spending more than £300 million transforming London’s bus fleet by retrofitting thousands of vehicles and a commitment to purchase only hybrid or zero-emission double decker buses from 2018 and with all buses meeting the Euro VI standard by 2020.
•Making sure TfL no longer licence new diesel taxis from 2018, maintaining the maximum vehicle age limit and £65 million in support to the trade to help upgrade taxis to much cleaner, ‘zero-emission capable’ vehicles.
•Introducing Five Low Emission Neighbourhoods (LENs) spanning eight boroughs and involving a range of local organisations, with funding for a further five business-led LENs. This is in addition to continuing the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and together these targeted actions will tackle some of the worst pollution hotspots across London, with TfL contributing £14 million.
•Providing alerts to Londoners during high and very high pollution episodes by issuing information on 2,500 bus countdown signs, at 140 roadside variable message signs and at 170 tube stations.
•Establishing a Cleaner Vehicle Checker, enabling Londoners to check the real-world emissions from a vehicle they may be considering buying.