London Assembly says ‘bin diesel!’

14 July 2015

Official estimates suggest that over 3,000 deaths each year in London are attributable to air pollution[3].

That’s seven per cent of all adult deaths in the capital[4], and second only to smoking as an environmental cause of death[5].  

London’s pollution levels are also illegal.  In April the Supreme Court ordered the Government to take immediate action to tackle the dangerously high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) found in the UK.

Diesel exhaust is a major contributor to air pollution. Diesel road traffic is responsible for 40 per cent of London’s emissions of nitrogen oxides (which include NO2)[6].

A report from the London Assembly Environment Committee - ‘Driving away from diesel: Reducing air pollution from diesel vehicles’ - examines London’s efforts to reduce pollution from diesel cars, lorries, buses and taxis. 

The report makes recommendations to ensure NO2 compliance in London as soon as possible, in order to clean up the capital’s air quality.

The recommendations include:

  • The Mayor should introduce the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) before 2020 and the zone should be wider and stronger.
  • The Government should take forward the Mayor’s proposal for a scrappage scheme linked to replacing non-compliant vehicles with low-emission vehicles.
  • The Mayor should set out - following consultation with the taxi industry - how zero-emission capable taxis will be available from 2018 and how the necessary infrastructure (rapid charging network and/or hydrogen stations) will be delivered.
  • The Mayor should work closely with the boroughs and national government to show how the whole of London could achieve compliance with European air pollution limits by 2020. 


Environment Committee Member, Stephen Knight AM, said;

“The Committee has been pushing for NO2 compliance for some time now but following the judgment from the Supreme Court in April, the Government is now obliged to act by law. We urge the Mayor and the Government to take our recommendations on board and we call on the Mayor to finally take ownership of the matter in order to help London’s air quality meet legal limits.

As petrol engines become cleaner with time it’s becoming clear that diesel emissions are a large part of the problem, so our report addresses this issue specifically.”

Read the report.

Notes to editors

1.      Comparison of air quality in London with a number of world and European cities, GLA, September 2014.

2.      Updated projections for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) compliance, DEFRA.

3.      Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution, Public Health England, April 2014.

4.      Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution, Public Health England, April 2014.

5.      Guide to health impacts, Clean Air in London, January 2012.

6.      Transport Emissions Roadmap: Cleaner transport for a cleaner London, Transport for London, September 2014.

7.      ‘Driving away from diesel: Reducing air pollution from diesel vehicles’ (attached).

8.      Stephen Knight AM, Environment Committee Member, is available for interview – see contact details below.

9.      As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Mary Dolan on 020 7983 4603.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.