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Air quality report calls for diesel cars to be phased out

Clean air will only be a reality in London if diesel vehicles are banned from the city’s streets, new research suggests.

Greenpeace, in partnership with the think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), have published Lethal and Illegal, new air pollution research based on modelling from King’s College, that shows clean air will be a reality only if diesel vehicles are phased out altogether.

The paper was presented on Monday (July 18) at City Hall at an event attended by Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, and representatives from the Royal College of Physicians and businesses.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Rather than turn a blind eye to this growing health crisis it is high time ministers faced up to their responsibilities.”

The report is published while Khan is conducting a public consultation on his plans to crack down on the most polluting vehicles and to bring in new measures to improve the city’s air. Nearly 11,000 Londoners have taken part so far.

New modelling based on transport emissions and air pollution data undertaken by King’s College as part of this project reveals that, even if London were to return to the lowest recorded level of diesel car ownership in the UK (around 10% of the car fleet in 1995), it would still not reach compliance with World Health Organisation guidelines and UK law by 2025.

To really get to grips with invisible pollutants (such as NO2 and PM2.5), the report says that the UK Government would need to progressively reform Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) to disincentive diesel vehicles. Also, a scrappage scheme should be put in place for older diesel cars across the UK or in areas of non-compliance with air pollution laws.

Barbara Stoll, Senior Climate & Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “The writing’s on the wall for diesel. We need vital leadership from the Government in phasing out diesel cars over the coming years, to reduce the number of early deaths owing to poor air quality.

“Sadiq Khan is stepping up to the challenge, but London can’t stand alone in this fight. We need urgent action from Theresa May and her new team to help clean up the car industry who’ve got away with polluting our streets for too long and help people make the switch.”  

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