Tackling high levels of air pollution in London will make it “likely that diesel cars will have to be completely phased out” over the next decade, according to research.
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said “such a shift would not be easy in such a short space of time, but it would not be impossible”.
The report said poor air quality led to around 9,400 premature deaths in the capital each year, making it the second most significant factor affecting health after smoking.
“Most air pollution in London is caused by road transport, of which diesel vehicles are the most polluting,” said the report.
The IPPR said the government needed to reform vehicle excise duty to disincentivise diesel cars and could offer a scrappage scheme for older vehicles.
The report said London was 15th out of 36 major global cities for air quality, behind cities such as Stockholm, Vienna and Berlin, with levels of nitrogen dioxide “comparable to cities such as Shanghai and Beijing”.
However, Steve Clarke, group marketing manager at Fuel Card Services, said the report was flawed.
“[Moving away from fossil fuels] might make sense once new alternatives become fully viable, but the report authors concede that sustainable transport is not yet practical,” he said.
“They suggest switching from diesel to petrol, but do not explain the logic of swapping one form of pollution for another. Reducing particulate pollution is essential, but surely not if it means a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is consulting on plans to tackle air quality including new charges for the most polluting vehicles, an expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone and a diesel scrappage scheme.
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