In a bid to reduce air pollution, the Mayor of London will introduce new charges for drivers of the most polluting vehicles travelling to the city centre. Mayor Sadiq Khan has described the city’s air as lethal, and stated that poor air quality is one of the reasons why there are 9,000 premature deaths in London each year.
Under the scheme, which will launch on 8 April 2019, an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will be created around the city centre. Drivers wishing to enter the zone, the first of its kind in the world, will need to pay a daily fee of around AU$21
This announcement follows the Mayor’s decision earlier this year to introduce a Toxicity Charge of AU$17 from October 2017. The T-charge targets most diesel and petrol vehicles made before 2006, which are considered more polluting than younger, more efficient models.
The new ULEZ scheme will eventually replace the T-charge, and apply to all non-compliant (pre-2006) vehicle types, except black taxis, 24 hours a day. London’s congestion charge, which has been in operation for 14 years and costs drivers entering the city centre between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday over $19.50 AUD, will remain, and the ULEZ will apply to the same geographic boundaries as the congestion charge.
Mayor Khan is proposing to expand the ULEZ across Greater London for heavy diesel vehicles, including buses, coaches and trucks, in 2020. London’s public buses will be transformed from diesel to low emission vehicles, all new taxis will need to be zero emission capable from 2018, and new private hire vehicles will need to follow suit from 2020.
Mayor Khan’s office estimates the ULEZ will result in nearly a 50 per cent reduction in road transport nitrogen dioxide emissions by 2020.
Nitrogen dioxide is produced by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil, petrol, diesel, and gas. Most of the nitrogen dioxide in cities comes from motor vehicle exhaust (about 80% in Australia). It can have a significant impact on human health by causing respiratory problems such as wheezing, coughing, colds, flu, and bronchitis.
In Australia air quality standards are monitored by state governments to ensure maximum levels of chemicals in the air are not breached. The NSW EPA states there have been significant improvements in air quality in NSW since the 1980s, and concentrations of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and nitrogen oxide are low, stable, and consistently meet national air quality standards.
- Decrease your carbon footprint by travelling in public trains, buses, light rail, and trams. For example, travelling on a Sydney bus creates 0.003 kgs of carbon dioxide, compared to 0.17 kgs from a standard car carrying one person.
- Better still, walk or cycle when possible and create zero emissions.
- Plant trees to help absorb and store carbon from the environment.