Matthew Pencharz, Boris Johnson’s environment advisor, defends Mayor’s air quality record
The EU’s decision to launch legal action over the UK’s failure to meet air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide is ‘hugely disappointing’, according to the London Mayor’s advisor for energy and the environment.
The European Commission announced on Thursday (February 20) that it would be taking the UK government to court over its failure to address nitrogen dioxide levels in 16 of 43 zones in the country – including London (see airqualitynews.com story).
But, writing in the London Evening Standard newspaper on Friday (February 21), advisor Matthew Pencharz defended the work towards improving the capital’s air quality under Boris Johnson.
Mr Pencharz wrote that “reading the headlines you’d be forgiven for thinking we either don’t care, haven’t done anything, or aren’t planning to start nowâ€?, adding “nothing could be further from the truth.â€?
The Mayor’s advisor highlighted electric vehicle car clubs, taxi age limits, low-emission routemaster buses as well as the planned Ultra Low Emission Zone for central London for 2020 among the policies designed to tackle nitrogen dioxide pollution from traffic in London.
Mr Pencharz added that since 2008 the number of Londoners living in areas where the air does not meet EU regulations has halved, while London also meets standards for eight of the nine EU regulated pollutants.
And, he wrote that as London is ‘by far the largest city in Europe’, it was a ‘considerable achievement’ that the UK is one of only nine Member States that has met legal requirements for particulate matter PM10.
As such, he wrote that ‘given that we have done more to address this problem than any other city’, the EU’s decision to take legal action was ‘hugely disappointing’.
Furthermore, Mr Pencharz argued that part of the reason the UK does not meet nitrogen dioxide standards is partly due to the EU’s Euro 6 vehicle engine standards, which ‘have failed to reduce pollution emissions as expected and don’t work properly in urban areas’ and have helped put ‘45 million more polluting vehicles on Europe’s roads’.
He wrote: “The Commission must take action now to accelerate the roll-out of the next generation of cleaner vehicles and back the development and uptake of new ultra-low emission technologies.â€?