The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank has published a joint plan for the government and the Mayor of London which it claims could bring emissions in the capital within legal limits.
Unveiled yesterday (2 November), the report titled â€˜Lethal & Illegal: Solving Londonâ€™s air pollution Crisis,â€™ sets out a two-phase plan of recommendations to cut air pollution in the city.
According to the report, â€œthe principal driver of air pollution in London is road transport and, within that, diesel vehicles. Nearly 40% of all NOx emissions within London come from diesel vehicles, and unless this is explicitly tackled it will be impossible to cleanse Londonâ€™s air.â€
Publication of the report has proved timely, coming on the day that the High Court ruled against the government on its air quality plan. The Judge ordered the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to quash re-draft proposals to tackle emissions for the second time in 18 months todayÂ (see AirQualityNews.com story).
According to IPPR, necessary actions to tackle air pollution in the capital include for the Mayor of London to phase out diesel cars in central London by the end of the next mayoral term, consider a charge on all non-zero emissions cars in inner London by 2025 and phase out diesel taxis by 2025.
The report also calls for action from Whitehall, proposals including a new Clean Air Act that targets air pollution, a diesel scrappage scheme to make the phase out affordable for poorer drivers and businesses and a reform of â€˜road taxâ€™ so diesel vehicles are not promoted over petrol.
Laurie Laybourn-Langton, IPPR research fellow on climate change, energy and transport policy, said: â€œAir pollution in London is at lethal levels. Bringing these levels down will save lives and make the capital more pleasant and prosperous for all Londoners.
â€œWe have provided a clear plan that shows how the mayor can ensure London stops breaking the law and complies with legal limits on air pollution.
â€œThis wonâ€™t be easy and so our plan includes a number of measures that reduce the cost to Londoners of cleaning up transport. The costs of inaction, in terms of poor health and lost business, are already too high.
â€œLondonâ€™s action needs to be complemented by measures from central government to make the move to cleaner vehicles cheaper, for example through a diesel scrappage scheme, so our message is that Whitehall will need to act as well as the Mayor.â€
Professor Stephen Holgate, FMedSci Special Adviser to the Royal College of Physicians said: “Fumes from diesel engines are the most toxic of all ambient air pollutants linked to human diseases like asthma, strokes and lung cancer.
â€œSince Europe has the highest proportion of its car fleet powered by diesel, encouraging solutions to this problem should be one of UK’s urgent priorities”.