Since a new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan was elected in 2016, there has been a dramatic plunge in London air pollution. Researchers from King’s College have discovered that for the past three years now, the number of Londoners residing in polluted areas declined from 2 million to 115, 000.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution plays a huge role in environmental health problems and that it is the fifth leading risk factor for death in society. Therefore, British law has incorporated WHO health guidelines for air pollution into their environmental law.
Every year, about 29,000 UK citizens are estimated to die prematurely as a result of the effects of air pollution. This called for urgent action. Khan started placing heavy charges on older diesel taxis and other dirty vehicles since they produce nitrogen oxide in combustion engines which is one of the contaminants in modern cities.
The Mayor also ensured that cleaner buses were moved to the busier routes and then moved the less-clean ones to outer London where fuel efficiency was much better. He also developed an ultra-low emissions zone and more routes for bicycles. This move really paid off, and Khan was able to reduce the metrics of air pollution and population risk by over 90%.
The ‘T-Charge’ was executed in London’s traffic zone in October 2017. This means that any vehicle without EU emissions standards level 4 will be charged. Cars registered from 2006 and before were charged a £10 fee to go through the zone.
A huge sum of £300 million was invested to transform the Transportation for London (TFL) bus fleet. These moves are really paying off as the number of schools in illegal air quality zones reduced from 455 in 2016 to 14 by 2020. About 99 percent of London is under levels regarded as legal by the EU, however, these places are considered unhealthy by the WHO.
Today’s report confirms the transformative impact that my policies have had on our toxic air crisis. I’m pleased that Londoners are breathing cleaner air and that we’re saving the NHS billions of pounds.Khan