London’s struggling attempt to battle rising air pollution was given a welcome boost on Monday (1 August), after the City of London Corporation announced a ban on the purchase of diesel vehicles for its business fleets.
With a fleet of more than 300 vehicles, the City Corporation arrived at an agreement to ban the purchase of diesel vehicles and will instead explore the benefits of hybrid vehicles.
Head of Procurement at the City of London Corporation Chris Bell said: “This agreement is a major step forward in our drive to protect the millions of London tourists, workers and residents from air pollution.
“The City Corporation takes air quality extremely seriously. We are taking responsibility for the cleanliness of our fleet and encouraging the use of low and zero emission vehicles with our partners.
“It complements the work that we are doing to support many City businesses who are also cutting back on vehicle deliveries and using more hybrid vehicles.”
With diesel being the main source of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions and particulate matter (PM10), the City Corporation is continuing to clamp down on its usage of diesel vehicles. It has already seen a 40% reduction of NOx and 50% of PM10 since 2009. This is due to a reduction of fleet sizes and purchasing low-emission vehicles. However, some diesel vehicles such as tractors will still be procured due to the lack of a non-diesel alternative.
The City of London Corporation has also created the ‘City Air’ app, which offers low-pollution travel routes around the capital. It joins the growing trend of mobile apps geared towards tackling air pollution, which includes the CleanSpace app that visualises pollution levels.
Additionally, the Corporation has also introduced a city wide 20mph zone and a city wide cutback on engine idling and tighter restrictions on bulldozers and generators.
Death of diesel
The announcement comes just a week after the approval of the London City Airports expansion, a move criticised by green groups as a ‘reckless and irresponsible’ decision. Also, with London having breached its annual air pollution limits within a single week earlier this year, eyes are on the city to crackdown on its environmental impact.
However, there is a series of business-orientated changes that aim to tackle the serious air pollution problem in London. With such a large number of fleets active in the UK, steps have already been introduced to mitigate the potential environmental impact.
In April this year, a Department for Transport (DfT) investigation revealed that some vehicles in the UK are still producing up to 12 times the EU maximum limit for road-tested emissions, tarnishing the Government’s claims that it “leading the push” for greater emissions testing in diesel cars.
London was also absent from the list of 20 European cities calling for more stringent regulations to be put in place across the continent to tackle the deadly levels of air pollution caused by diesel vehicles.
However, London’s dormant approach to tackling diesel emissions could be rejuvenated by new Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has vowed to introduce Clean Bus Corridors and a diesel vehicle scrappage scheme.