‘A long way to go’ to tackle London’s air pollution

Senior air quality researchers suggest that London may be more than a decade away from compliance with emission laws.

London has “a long way to go” before it is likely to meet EU legal limits on air pollution emissions, according to a leading environmental researcher.

The comments came from Timothy Baker, principal air quality analyst and Dr Gary Fuller, senior lecturer in air quality measurement at King’s College London, speaking at the annual London Air Quality Network (LAQN) Conference hosted by the University in London today (21 June).

King's College London's Dr Gary Fuller

King’s College London’s Dr Gary Fuller (left)

Despite the warning Mr Baker said some progress has been made in reducing emissions in the capital in recent years.

He said: “Over the last 10 years we have had success in dealing with petrol cars and certain pollutants such as PM10, PM2.5 and NOx are on the decrease in some areas, but rising in other areas of London.

“However, the capital has a long way to go in tackling air pollution. Ozone is going to become an increasing problem for London in the years ahead.”


Also addressing delegates, Dr Fuller said that on current trends it may take ‘some time’ for the capital to comply with legal limits on air pollution.

Dr Fuller said this presented an interesting dilemma for policy makers in the decades ahead. He added that local and national government may have to “ramp up” policy in order to bring air pollution under control.

Dr Fuller added it had been a “mistake” for organisations not to measure air pollution to determine the effectiveness of policy in the past.

He said: “In certain areas it may take 10 years to comply with the legal limits for air pollutions, others 15 years and in the worst performing areas maybe as long as 28 years if past performance is anything to go by. However, you have to be very careful when referring to past performance to predict the future.

“In London we have seen a fall in vehicle use in almost all areas. It goes without saying that if we reduce the number of cars on the road — we will reduce the harmful pollutants being emitted.

“For example we have seen with selective catalytic reduction systems a difference on quite roads, while pollution on some fast paced roads has risen. But I have hopes for Euro 6 buses, which we know has a huge impact on emissions.”

The LAQN Conference continues this afternoon.


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