Tuesday 10 October 2017 06.01 BST
London mayor Sadiq Khan has been urged to do more to tackle the capital’s air pollution crisis by leading health experts and academics.
In a new report published on Tuesday, the group, including the chair of the NHS Sir Malcolm Grant, said the mayor must go further to reduce car use across the capital and harness new technology to create a system based around “public transport, walking and cycling”.
The findings come amid mounting evidence of the health threat posed by the UK’s air pollution crisis. Last week it emerged that as well as illegal levels of NO2 pollution, every person in the capital is breathing air that exceeds global guidelines for dangerous PM2.5 particles.
The scale of the situation was highlighted this week when MPs from four Commons committees decided to relaunch their “super inquiry” into the UK’s toxic air, warning that the health implications were increasingly serious.
Launching the inquiry, Lilian Greenwood MP, chair of the transport select committee, said: “Real change is possible if government leads from the front to coordinate an effective response to one of the biggest issues of our time.”
Khan has set out a range of plans to tackle pollution from diesel cars in the capital. The first stage, the new T-Charge, which will charge older, more polluting vehicles entering central London, starts later this month.
Next year, the roll-out of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) begins, which will impose an additional charge on the most polluting vehicles.
But the report, titled the Commission on the Future of London’s Roads and Streets, commissioned by the Centre for London thinktank, said he must go further.
It suggests the low emissions zone should be used to identify the dirtiest vehicles and offer them “mobility tokens” to spend on public transport or other green alternatives in exchange for taking their vehicles off the road.
It also suggests:
- Ending subsidised residential parking permits and introducing incentives, including public transport credits, for residents to give up their existing permits
- Extending payment systems such as the Oyster card to include new greener services such as car clubs, cycle hire, taxis and cabs
- Replacing the existing congestion charge with a pan-London, pre-pay smart road user pricing scheme, which reflects the environmental impacts of journeys
Green groups and clean air campaigners have welcomed the mayor’s plans on air pollution but agree he must go further.
Rosie Rogers, Greenpeace UK’s senior clean air campaigner, said the report was “absolutely right to call on the London mayor to be bold in reshaping the capital’s transport system”.
“Tackling the air pollution crisis that’s threatening the health of so many Londoners, especially children, will require a far-reaching and ambitious strategy,” she said, adding that the mayor had “already taken some welcome steps … but much more needs to be done”.
“With diesel being a major contributor to illegal air pollution, Sadiq Khan’s plan will need to include tough action on all diesel cars, old and new, if it is to succeed.”