From: Richard Howard / Policy Exchange, The Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published March 11, 2016 08:00 AM

Time to re-think the diesel

Low Emissions Zones have their place in cleaning up the UK's worst air pollution hotspots, writes Richard Howard. But we also need to adopt fiscal measures to encourage a shift away from diesel vehicles, at once delivering cleaner air, increased tax revenues, and lower carbon emissions.

If we are to clean up air pollution in London and the rest of the UK, then Government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift away from diesel to alternatives.

There is an air pollution crisis taking place in London and many of the UK's other major cities.

Our recent report Up in the Air documents the fact that 12.5% of London's total area exceeded legal and healthy limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in 2010.

This area contains a workplace population of 3.8 million people, as well as 979 schools attended by a quarter of London's school population.

Exposure to NO2 can cause lung irritation and increases the chances of respiratory infections, particularly amongst those with a pre-existing condition such as asthma.

It is estimated that if air pollution stayed at current levels it would reduce the average life expectancy across all Londoners born in 2010 by up to 2 years (9 months for Particulate Matter and up to 15 months for NO2).

Diesel fuel tank being filled image via Shutterstock.

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