The Mayor of London could mimic his counterpart in Paris and ban diesel cars from the centre of the capital in a bid to improve air quality, a transport campaigner suggested.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, recently told a French newspaper that : “I want diesel cars out of Paris by 2020”. Stephen Joseph – from the Campaign for Better Transport – said that: “London is very polluted” and “where Paris goes London won't be far behind”.
Even if there is no outright ban on diesels in the capital, there is a proposal to increase the London Congestion Charge for such vehicles by £10. The cost would then top £20.
What Are The Dangers Of Diesel
Diesels emit particulate matter and ozone that increase the risk of cardiovascular and lung disease, heart attack and cancer. The Government claims 29,000 deaths are caused annually in the UK by air pollution. Emissions have also been linked to birth abnormalities.
The Mayor of London's Senior Advisor for Environment and Energy, Matthew Pencharz, explained: "When it comes to tackling London's air pollution, and protecting the health and well-being of all Londoners, diesel cars are an issue which must be addressed."
This might confuse drivers that have been encouraged to buy diesel for environmental reasons. Mr Pencharz said: "Over recent years the Euro diesel engine standards have not delivered the emission savings expected, yet governments have been incentivising us to buy.”
Simon Moore, Senior Research Fellow at the Thinktank Policy Exchange, added: "For too long people have been encouraged to buy diesel vehicles, which while slightly better for the climate are far worse for local air quality”.
UK air quality has fallen short of legally enforceable standards. The Guardian revealed that the country faces fines of £300 million a year and court appearances after the European commission launched proceedings for failing to reduce pollution from traffic.
The Mayor of London is fighting back with an Ultra Low Emission Zone for 2020, where the majority of vehicles operating during working hours will have zero or low emissions.
What Could This Mean For Motorists?
The owner of a diesel vehicle could find it increasingly expensive – perhaps even prohibitively – to drive in the centre of London if the Congestion Charge is increased.
Alternatives include switching to public transport or swapping to a petrol, electric or hydrogen powered vehicle. If drivers trade-in on mass, diesels could have low used values in the capital. These factors would be increased exponentially if there is an outright ban.