Diesel-free London could solve air pollution crisis

A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has unveiled a radical new plan to help the Mayor and government radically cut air pollution and boost Londoners health.

As the high court is due to rule on the government’s air quality plan, the IPPR has said that banning inner London of virtually all diesel vehicles would solve the capital’s air pollution crisis.

With illegal levels of air pollution causing about 9,500 early deaths a year in London, the report sets out a series of measures to solve the problem, including charges on all diesel cars and banning diesel taxis, plus stricter limits for trucks and buses.

Boosting public transport, cycling and walking are also vital, according to the report, as is a national scrappage scheme for old diesel vehicles.

The IPPR claim that air pollution in London is a health emergency, and is calling for Whitehall to adopt a new Clean Air Act that targets air pollution, as well as introducing a new diesel scrappage scheme to make the phase out affordable for poorer drivers and businesses and reforming road tax, so diesel vehicles are not promoted over petrol.

Laurie Laybourn-Langton, IPPR research fellow on climate change, energy and transport policy, said: “Air 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.

“We 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. This won’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.

“London’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.”

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