Clean Air Day

MQT on 2019-06-20
Session date: 
June 20, 2019
Question By: 
Florence Eshalomi
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Today is World Clean Air Day, and Londoners across the city are benefiting from your programmes, including the ULEZ, Low Emission Bus Zones and Low Emission Neighbourhoods. What lessons will you be taking forward to continue this success?

Supplementary Questions: 


Answer for Clean Air Day

Answer for Clean Air Day

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chair.  Air pollution in our city is leading to thousands of premature deaths, stunted lungs in our children and increased risk of stroke and dementia in the old.  It is also a social justice issue as those living in deprived parts of our city are being exposed to around a quarter more pollution.


This is unacceptable.  That is why we have introduced the boldest plans to tackle air pollution of any major city in the world.  These were opposed by the Conservatives.


On Clean Air Day, I am pleased to report that we are delivering real improvements to the air Londoners are breathing.  Last week I announced funding for a further four Low Emission Neighbourhoods to tackle air pollution hotspots, taking the total to 15, as well as a host of other projects. In April [2019] I introduced the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London.  In just the first month in operation, the ULEZ resulted in 74% of vehicles meeting the required standards.  We have also seen already a 20% reduction in concentrations of nitrogen dioxide since February 2017.  Had we listened to the Conservatives this would not have happened.


The lesson we are learning is that with strong leadership and the right policies, we can make a real difference to Londoners’ lives.  Working in partnership with Londoners, businesses and boroughs across London is also proving vital to delivering our air pollution initiatives and so I intend to continue with this approach over the coming months and years.


I will also continue to call on the Government to learn from our experience in London and to match our ambition.  It must not only commit to passing new clean air legislation so that we can tackle all sources of air pollution in London, but also introduce a new national vehicle scrappage scheme to take the most polluting vehicles off our streets now.


Florence Eshalomi AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  Those figures are really good.  Over the last few years we have seen air quality come up the agenda and this is something that affects all of us regardless of background.


One of the things that is really good is the scrappage scheme, but unfortunately a number of residents that I represent in Lambeth and Southwark have raised concerns about the cost of switching to electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.  If we are honest, they are still very expensive, especially for those families on low incomes.


What more can you do to make sure we are getting the right level of scrappage for those families who do want to switch their cars and make sure that they are not contributing to that toxic air?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thanks for your question.  You are right to make sure that you speak on behalf of those low-income families, small businesses and charities that want to do the right thing.


We from City Hall, in the absence of Government funding, have contributed £23 million to a scrappage scheme for the smallest businesses and charities.  One of the points made to me was that sole traders were not eligible originally.  We have changed that to make them eligible for this scheme.


The second thing we are working on is a scrappage scheme of £25 million for low-income families.  We are looking at how we can make it easier for the poorest families to get access to this.


Just to remind - through you - Londoners, to be ULEZ compliant, your car needs to be Euro 6 if it is diesel or Euro 4 if it is petrol.  That does not mean necessarily that you have to move to electric, although we would like you to, and so we are giving carrots and some sticks to do so with the ULEZ.  We want to encourage, where possible, people to walk, cycle and use public transport or, when they need to use a vehicle, to use an electric or hydrogen vehicle.


What we are doing, as I announced last week with Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment, is improving the infrastructure to make it easier for people to access charging points.


Florence Eshalomi AM:  Great.  Thank you.  I will leave it there, Mr Mayor.