London introduces new tax on cars to fight air pollution

The city of London is cracking down even further on air pollution by introducing a new charge on old polluting cars starting in October, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Friday.

The new GBP 10 T-Charge, short for Toxicity Charge, will apply to the majority of pre-2006 vehicles – and it will come on top of the existing GPB 11.50 congestion charge introduced in 2003 for the city centre, the Mayor of London’s office announced.

Calling it the “toughest emission standard of any world city”, the T-Charge is expected to apply to up to 10,000 of the oldest, most polluting vehicles every weekday.

Over 9,000 Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of exposure to long-term air pollution, and 438 schools in the city are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.

“It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems,” said London’s mayor Sadiq Khan. “If we don’t make drastic changes now we won’t be protecting the health of our families in the future.”

The new levy has the support of health and environmental advocates. Sophie Neuburg from Friends of the Earth London called it an “important first step in reducing the toxic diesel fumes that are choking our city and harming the health of Londoners every day”.

As AFP reported, the T-Charge was unveiled just two days after the EU issued a warning to five member states, including Britain, to take action on car pollution or risk being sent to the European Court of Justice.

A number of major European cities like London, Paris and Oslo have been choking under heavy smog this winter, prompting emergency measures such as banning diesel vehicles from city centres.

The new levy is just one of many measures designed clean up London’s filthy air. Since becoming Mayor of London in 2016, Sadiq Khan has doubled the funding spent on tackling air quality over the next five years to GPB 875 million and plans to introduce the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone as early as 2019.

He is also spending more than GPB 300 million to phase out diesel double-decker buses and has committed to purchase only hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018.

But Khan warned that his office cannot win the battle against air pollution on its own.

“Now is the time for Government to show real leadership and join me by introducing a diesel scrappage fund and bring in the new Clean Air Act we desperately need,” Khan said.


Image credit: David Holt, flickr/Creative Commons

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