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London’s ultra-low emission zone cuts air pollution by a third in first six months

13,500 fewer polluting cars are being driven into central London since the ULEZ was implemented.


New figures from London’s City Hall find that since the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) was introduced in April 2019, there are 13,500 fewer polluting cars being driven into central London each day, representing a 38 per cent drop in air pollution.


The ULEZ – operating in the Central London Congestion Charging zone – is central to Mayor Sadiq Khan’s work to tackle London’s toxic air health crisis.


Roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution has reduced by 36 per cent in the zone. The City Hall report estimates that the reduction in NO2 pollution solely attributable to the ULEZ is 29 per cent.


Roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution has reduced by 36 per cent in the zone.


Alex Williams, Transport for London’s director of city planning, said: “The early evidence suggests that the ULEZ is not only encouraging people to use cleaner private cars, but also to use more sustainable alternatives such as walking, cycling and public transport. The ULEZ is also helping to reduce its impact on climate change – with an estimated reduction of road-based carbon dioxide by nearly 100,000 tonnes.”




None of the air quality monitoring sites located on ULEZ boundary roads have measured an increase in NO2 pollution levels since the scheme was introduced in April 2019.


Further, 77 per cent of vehicles now in the zone now meet the ULEZ emissions standards. Polluting vehicles account for around half of London’s harmful NOx air emissions, with air pollution costing the capital up to £3.7 billion every year.


Carbon dioxide emissions from road transport in the central zone are four per cent lower than if there was no scheme


The report also found that carbon dioxide emissions from road transport in the central zone are four per cent (9,800 tonnes) lower than if there was no scheme. When compared to 2016 levels, this equates to an expected 13 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions if the current compliance rates continued over the course of this year.


Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These figures prove without a doubt that ULEZ is exceeding expectations, reducing polluting vehicles and cleaning up our lethal air. I am determined to stop Londoners breathing air so filthy it is damaging our children’s lungs and causing thousands of premature deaths.


“The ULEZ shows what we can achieve if we are brave enough to implement such ambitious policies. I now hope the Government will match my ambition and amend their environment bill to ensure it has the legally binding WHO- recommended limits to be achieved by 2030 that we need to protect public health.”




Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “The success of the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) is a fantastic example of the difference Clean Air Zones, that charge the most-polluting vehicles, can make in reducing levels of pollution. We now want to see the ULEZ expanded to every polluted London borough to protect the lungs of every Londoner. And critically, we know dirty air isn’t just a problem in London.


“Most UK cities have illegal and unsafe levels of pollution, which seriously effects the health and quality of life of the millions who have a lung disease and puts children at risk of developing a lung condition. That’s why similar Clean Air Zones must be urgently rolled out across the country to protect everyone’s lungs.”


Research has found that pollution leads to thousands of premature deaths every year and increases the risk of asthma, dementia and cancer.


A recent report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) found that exposure to air pollution caused about 400,000 premature deaths in the European Union (EU) in 2016.


The researchers concluded that almost all Europeans living in cities remain exposed to air pollution levels that exceed the health base.


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