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Mayor of London backs diesel car scrappage scheme

Boris Johnson -Mayor of London backs diesel car scrappage scheme

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has renewed calls for scrapping the most polluting diesel cars and giving drivers cash incentives to switch to cleaner vehicles as part of the evidence he gave to the Environmental Audit Committee today.

The Mayor is supporting proposals for the UK Government to help motorists by offering between a £1,000 and £2,000 (US$1,614 to US$3,228) grant per vehicle for the most polluting diesels which are more than 12 months old. The Mayor called this a brilliant opportunity to support the British car industry and promote the early uptake of ultra low emission vehicles.

As reported in The Guardian, the Mayor told the Committee that:

You could do a diesel scrappage scheme that would stimulate the market for cleaner vehicles. I think we’re saying it should be £1-2,000 for people who have been seduced into buying a diesel vehicle and I feel very sorry for them. Everyone should be very clear this has been a massive failure of policy, millions were told they were doing the right thing, the environmentally-friendly thing, by buying a diesel. They now feel very hacked off now they’re told they are more polluting.

Johnson said the scheme would cost around £300 million (US$484 million) in total.

Charging more-polluting diesel cars is a key part of the Mayor’s proposals for an Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will be introduced in central London from 2020 (subject to consultation).

However, the Mayor believes that it is only fair that Government provides support to people who have bought these vehicles in good faith to switch to cleaner alternatives.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is set to take London two-thirds of the way to compliance with EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and will encourage all vehicles in central London to be ultra low or zero emission from 2020. It is key part of his newly published Transport Emission Road Map which sets out how London could meet EU legal limits by 2020—more than ten years ahead of the current Government projections for compliance—as long as the European Commission and Government commit to match the Mayor’s policies.

The Transport Emission Road Map calls on Government to amend fiscal incentives, launch a national vehicle scrappage scheme and support more sustainable modes of travel. It also sets out proposals for Low Emission Neighborhoods where new technology will be used to switch zero-emission capable buses and taxis into their zero-emission electric mode, reducing emissions in some of the most polluted parts of London where there are large numbers of people exposed. There are also proposals to tighten the standards for the London-wide Low Emission Zone from 2025.

The Mayor also welcomed a new comprehensive study comparing air quality in 36 world and European cities based on pollutants such as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The study commissioned by the Mayor, undertaken by leading consultancy AMEC and peer-reviewed by prominent air quality experts and academics, developed three indices which ranked cities based on citywide emissions, transport-focused emissions and using a special health-weighted index.

London ranked 9th on the health impacts index, 15th on the citywide index and 17th on the traffic focused index.

Vancouver is rated the city with the best air quality and Cairo or Mumbai is rated the worst. The EU cities with the best air quality using all three indices is Stockholm.