London's Air Quality Has Improved By A Third Following Initiatives

London’s Air Quality Has Improved By A Third Following Initiatives

London's Air Quality Has Improved By A Third Following Initiatives

London’s air quality has improved by a third. The discovery follows the introduction of initiatives like toxicity charges and an Ultra Low Emission Zone…

Breathe Easy

The air quality in central London has improved by a third in two years. The discovery follows the introduction of a number of initiatives designed to tackle the city’s emissions crisis. These have included the likes of a £10 toxicity charge (now superseded) and a daily £12.50 Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge. Nitrogen oxide in particular has declined significantly. Produced by diesels, levels have fallen from 85 to 57 micrograms per cubic metre. That said, carbon dioxide has only experienced a decline of around 4%. Nevertheless, the results have been interpreted as encouraging and more calls are being made to introduce the measures in other cities.

Overall, there are now 13,500 less polluting vehicles driving in central London. This means that 77% of the vehicles travelling in the ULEZ are compliant. Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has emphasised that the results have vindicated his occasionally controversial policies. He said, “I am determined to stop Londoners breathing air so filthy it is damaging our children’s lungs and causing thousands of premature deaths”. The health affects of emissions and pollution have received significant publicity as of late. Studies have suggested that, throughout Europe, they’re causing 500,000 premature deaths every year; mainly via heart problems and strokes. It’s also thought that they stifle the development of lungs in children.

Still A Long Way To Go

Despite the progress that’s been made in improving the capital’s air quality, pollution levels remain illegally high. In fact, NOx levels are 17 micrograms above the 40 microgram legal limit. But this isn’t discouraging Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation. She passionately believes in the ULEZ concept. She said, “critically, we know dirty air isn’t just a problem in London. Most UK cities have illegal and unsafe levels of pollution, which seriously affects the health and quality of life of millions with a lung disease and puts children at risk of developing a lung condition”. She added, “that’s why similar clean air zones must be urgently rolled out across the country to protect everyone’s lungs”.

It seems that the ULEZ initiative is working. Faced with eye-watering costs, drivers of the most polluting vehicles are simply avoiding the most densely populated areas of London (at least in the heart of the city). But controversy around the concept remains. Some motoring organisations like the AA have expressed concerns that ‘green’ initiatives often hit the poorest motorists the hardest; effectively forcing them off of the roads. Others have suggested that, without investment in alternative means of travel, the problem is just being moved from one area to another. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see whether the reduction in emissions will inspire other cities and authorities to implement similar measures over the coming years…

What Are Clean Air Zones? –

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