In a bid to cut air pollution, the London Mayor Boris Johnson plans to increase the congestion charge by £10 for diesel cars from 2020. Diesel produces less CO2 than petrol meaning it is slightly better for the environment, but it is much worse for local air and causes more health problems than petrol.
Diesel fuel is cheaper than petrol and diesel cars are slightly cheaper to run. That’s why in 2012, half the cars sold in the UK had diesel engines, but Johnson hopes to increase the tax on diesel to discourage people from buying these cars.London is one of the most polluted cities in Europe and it is expected to exceed Europe’s nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limit until 2030. Oxford Street has the highest NO2 emissions in the world. The UK government faces fines of up to £300m a year for failure to comply with Europe’s pollution limits.
While banning diesel cars from the proposed ‘Ultra Low Emissions Zone’ in Central London is a good move, coaches and HGVs are exempt in order to save businesses £350m.
While increasing the congestion charge is a step in the right direction, there is no reason why it cannot be implemented from next year, not 2020. Is it really enough to dramatically reduce NO2 emissions in the capital? Every year that drastic action is not taken, thousands more people die from deaths related to air pollution. Allowing diesel-fuelled HGVs and coaches into the ultra low emissions zone defeats the point of it.
It is estimated that air pollution is the cause of 29,000 deaths a year in the UK. It increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease and can aggravate and prolong existing health conditions such as asthma.
Carbon Voyage is committed to reducing carbon emissions in the capital and has recently launched its vehicle sharing system for freight vehicles that have or need space to deliver goods to exhibitions and events.