Banning petrol cars

MQT on 2017-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2017
Question By: 
Shaun Bailey
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party Leader, recently mentioned that he would like to explore the idea of banning the sale of all new petrol cars. Does the Mayor agree with the Labour Leader on this? What does he think would be the impact of such a policy on Londoners?


Answer for Banning petrol cars

Answer for Banning petrol cars

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  London’s dirty air causes over 9,000 premature deaths and costs the economy up to £3.7 billion every year.  I am very clear that more needs to be done to urgently tackle pollution.


However, a simple ban on the sale of all petrol cars is not the answer and neither is a ban on diesel vehicles, as I understand you suggested in your interview with LBC recently.  Banning certain vehicles, be they petrol or diesel, could lead to people switching back to the alternative, both of which cause different kinds of pollution.  Rather than bans, we need to encourage the use of greener zero-emission vehicle technologies.


I am leading in London by taking action to improve the future health of our citizens and attain compliance with safe legal limits as quickly as possible.  As you will be aware, I have consulted on bold new proposals to introduce an emission surcharge, popularly known as the T‑Charge, this year for older polluting petrol and diesel cars.  This T‑Charge is a first step towards bringing forward and expanding the ULEZ, which will reduce NOx and road transport emissions in central London by 50%, in inner London by 40% and in outer London by 30%.  I have set requirements from next year that will mean TfL no longer procures pure diesel double-deck buses and all new taxis need to be zero-emission capable with no more diesel taxis being licensed.  This is all part of my plan to cut air pollution in the capital and for London to be a zero-carbon city by 2050 and creating a clear trajectory towards this.  To make these commitments a reality, I have more than doubled air-quality spending in the new TfL business plan from £425 million to £875 million over the next five years.


However, I cannot solve this problem alone.  We require a step-change in ambition from the Government.  The extensive powers and resources held exclusively at a national level must be used to deliver further improvements to air quality as quickly as possible from fiscal incentives on vehicle excise duty (VED) to a national diesel scrappage scheme.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  From your statement, can you guarantee to Londoners that you would not support a policy of this ilk as suggested by the [Labour] Leader in London or nationally?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I could not have been clearer.  I can read the answer again if you did not hear me.


Shaun Bailey AM:  It was just for the avoidance of doubt.  The question I would ask, really, is ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Please.


Shaun Bailey AM:  ‑‑ are you supportive of [Jeremy] Corbyn?  Do you believe that he is saying things that ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I mean, can I ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Come on.  We want to know.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  For those members of the public gallery ‑‑


Shaun Bailey AM:  Hold on, Mayor.  Hold on.  Before you make ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ this is the intellect of the questions I have to put up with.


Shaun Bailey AM:  Hold on, Mayor.  Hold on.  You do have to put up with them.  It is your job.  Before you make your quip - and quip away - we want to know: do you want his job?  Do you want to be Leader of the Labour Party in replacement of [Jeremy] Corbyn, for the avoidance of doubt?


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  There is not a vacancy.


Shaun Bailey AM:  I am not asking you.  I am asking the Mayor.  He can answer any way he likes.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Yes.  Although I would very much like to hear the answer it is not really relevant to today’s proceedings.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Deputy Chair):  It is not relevant.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  It is a matter for you, Mr Mayor.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Go on, Chairman.  I want to answer the question.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Do tell us.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I do not want to be Leader of the Labour Party because I have the best job there is, which is being the Mayor of London. One of the joys of being a Mayor for all Londoners is seeing all of those former Conservative supporters voting for me, joining my campaign, delivering my leaflets and donating to my campaign.  I am looking forward to more support from former Conservative voters going forward to build on the record mandate I received last May [2016].


I am really pleased to have the opportunity, Chairman, through you, thanks to your generosity in chairmanship, to repeat the fact that we had a big mandate last May as Assembly Members and me as the Mayor and I am looking forward to spending the next 24 years making this an even greater city than it currently is.


Shaun Bailey AM:  I am sure your Captain Corbyn is very pleased with that answer.  Thank you, Mayor.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Mr Mayor, in your introductory statement, you referred to your “package” of measures with cleaner buses now, earlier implementation of the ULEZ, a much larger ULEZ and of course the T‑Charge as well, which you are introducing after consulting with experts, talking to professors and listening to the medical evidence.  Alongside that, we do have support from the boroughs: Westminster and Lambeth with the no-idling campaigns, Merton being innovative around raising the cost of parking permits for people with diesels and lowering it for those with electric vehicles.


I would like your reassurance that you are going to continue to make your policy on tackling London’s dirty air after listening to experts rather than on the basis of selective misquotes from non-expert Assembly Members.  I am concerned.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I thank you for your question.  I know that you take your role as Chair of the [Environment] Committee very seriously.


I was, frankly, shocked when I discovered that the Conservatives on the Assembly were opposing our plans to clean up the air in London.  I would remind those Members that the air in London is a killer.  The Assembly Member who was on LBC, Assembly Member Bailey, was disputing the over 9,000 deaths in London and I have the transcript here to prove that.


There are children in parts of London whose lungs are underdeveloped.  Many of us have adult-onset asthma because of the poor-quality air.  UK courts from the Supreme Court downwards - and these are British judges and so you cannot accuse those foreigners in Europe - are saying that our air is in breach of the Air Quality Directive.  The air in London is a killer, it makes you sick and it is illegal.


In those circumstances, you would have thought there would be some humility, bearing in mind they have supported a Mayor for the last eight years who fiddled with air quality monitoring, ignored court judgments ‑‑


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  Did you say “fiddled” again?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ and was against improving the quality of the air.  Nothing I inherited would clean up the air in my first term as Mayor and so I have a package of measures.  You are right.  The package of measures starts with the T‑Charge this October and, subject to consultation, the ULEZ being brought forward sooner and being widened.  We are also going to have across London all heavy vehicles meeting the same Euro VI standard.  We are transforming our buses with no more diesel buses from 2018.


However, we cannot do it ourselves.  We need the Government to help us.  Rather than them helping us to lobby the Government, they are not making London’s air any better.  They are only making it worse.  It is shocking and disappointing.


Leonie Cooper AM:  You would agree with me that it is quite deplorable that some Assembly Members are spending their time playing party politics around the issue of our dirty air and Londoners’ lives and health?  You would prefer, as I would, to see them pressing their Conservative colleagues in the Government to make changes to the VED and to introduce a new Clean Air Act as a matter of urgency?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  The good news is that Conservative Councils across London agree with us.  I am just disappointed that for short-term party political reasons this lot does not.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Just for personal publicity, even.


Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  You have led a sheltered life, Mr Mayor, if you are disappointed by that. 


David Kurten AM:  Mr Mayor, you mentioned electric vehicles.  At the moment, there are fully electric vehicles and they can do about 80 miles, perhaps, on a charge of five hours, which is quite a long time to charge a vehicle to do a small amount of mileage.  That is going to increase in the future.


I see in the future electric vehicles becoming much more efficient and much better and I see in the future the technology perhaps going in two different ways.  You can put in the infrastructure of charging stations everywhere, which is something that you have mentioned before, but there is also the possibility of going down the route of the technology of rechargeable batteries, which are replaceable and very quick.


Which of those two options do you think would be the better technology to go with in terms of infrastructure?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is why we looked at innovators in the private sector.  One of the reasons why we had the bus conference here last year was to say, “We need your help, manufacturers and innovators, in relation to solutions to the challenges we face”.  The good news is that transport authorities from around the world came to our conference and we need the private sector to innovate to find solutions.  We had the world’s first double-decker hydrogen bus outside City Hall.  A question later on talks about the importance of charging points and infrastructure.  A one-size-fits-all approach does not work, but nor does politicians coming up with the solutions.  We have to work with innovators to come up with solutions.


David Kurten AM:  Thank you.