Both the current and incoming Mayor of London should work on converting cabs and taxis to LPG if we want to cut air pollution in the capital, according to Calor Gas’s Paul Blacklock.
The new Mayor of London should focus on increasing the number of black cabs running on LPG fuel if we are going to cut traffic pollution in the capital, according to Paul Blacklock of Calor Gas.
According to the new report by Policy Exchange – ‘Up in the Air’ – millions of Londoners could live at least a month longer if a series of air pollution-eradicating measures are taken by the city’s Mayor and central government. Along with the news that the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) hourly legal limit for all of 2016 was breached just eight days into the year, it is not surprising that London’s air quality is the biggest environmental threat currently facing the city.
One of the measures recommended in the report is the introduction of policies that will provide “greater certaintyâ€? over lower-emission liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fuel. It is imperative that the city’s taxi fleet is cleaned up.
Currently London’s cabbies can convert their polluting diesel taxis to LPG in return for a five-year extension to their operating licence. Transport for London (TfL) has indicated that the incentives for these conversions may stop in the near future, just as London’s air quality is reaching critical levels. A properly deployed plan to convert targeted sections of London’s taxi fleet to LPG will help clean up London more quickly and save cabbies’ money in the long run.
From 2018, politicians, policy makers and the industry will be encouraging black cabs to take advantage of TfL’s subsidy to convert to hybrid electric vehicles. But the brutal reality is the subsidy for electric cabs will not cover all of the existing fleet, leaving a large number of cabbies to fully fund the electric solution themselves. And as things stand, TfL’s current plans mean that without the LPG conversion option many taxis will be allowed to continue running on diesel right out to 2030.
“As things stand, TfL’s current plans mean that without the LPG conversion option many taxis will be allowed to continue running on diesel right out to 2030” – Paul Blacklock, Calor Gas.
LPG is a much cleaner fuel than diesel and petrol and offers a solution which can be deployed now, without the need for subsidy, as cabbies will get a payback on their £8,000 investment within two years – meaning cleaner air for London in a shorter timeframe and for less money.
Other cities are already taking the lead. The Labour-controlled Birmingham city council is supporting the conversion of its taxis from diesel to cleaner LPG, whilst in Japan Toyota is launching its zero emission-capable black cab, again on LPG, for just £16,000 from 2018. The same could be implemented for vans used in cities.
With London’s air quality being the biggest environmental risk for London this year, these simple LPG solutions provide Boris Johnson with an opportunity for a real environmental legacy, and for Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan the opportunity to be seen to be leading on improving London’s air quality.
– Paul Blacklock is head of corporate affairs and strategy at fuel supplier Calor Gas.