Air quality push by Livingstone in London mayoral campaign

Labour mayoral candidate accuses Boris Johnson of delaying ‘vital measures’ for reducing air pollution in the capital while the Green candidates promises a ‘very low emission zone’, writes Amy North.

Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has accused rival Boris Johnson of delaying ‘vital measures’ for reducing air pollution in the capital and said he will introduce schemes to ensure London meets the European air quality standards. 

Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone

The comments came in Mr Livingstone’s manifesto as he prepares to go head-to-head with incumbent mayor Boris Johnson, Conservative, in the race for the London top spot on May 3.

The LibDem candidate Brian Paddick is promising to rewrite London’s air quality strategy while the Green candidate, Jenny Jones, is says she will ensure that all buses are low emission hybrid, hydrogen of electric models within one year of being elected

In his manifesto Mr Livingstone, Labour, says: “Air pollution levels are twice health-based legal standards near our busiest roads. The biggest cause of air pollutant emissions is road traffic. Yet Boris Johnson’s response has been to delay vital measures like the third phase of the Low Emission Zone, to scrap the Western Extension of the congestion charge while allocating £1 million to the spraying of ‘de-icer’ on the roads near air pollution monitoring sites to reduce the pollution readings.”

Incumbent Mayor and candidate Boris Johnson

To improve air quality levels Mr Livingstone said he will stop ‘wasting money on gimmicks’ and instead meet with the EU Environment Commission to agree a plan to help London meet the European air quality standards.

The Labour candidate also said he will also do more than Mr Johnson, by introducing smog alerts to protect vulnerable Londoners, something which he says the current Mayor has refused to do.

In his manifesto Mr Livingstone says: “On days where there is severe smog, people with existing breathing or heart conditions are at enhanced risk if they go outdoors. They need a smog warning so they can make that judgement. Boris Johnson has refused to do this. I will make issuing smog alerts standard practice.”

Elsewhere Mr Livingstone is planning to create ‘clean air zones’ around schools suffering from high pollution. He says he will tackle this through engagement with parents to reduce car travel to school, creating 20mph zones and enforcement against engine idling. He will also oppose any new waste incinerators in the city to stop the release of ‘dangerous toxins into the air’.


Mr Livingstone does share Mr Johnson’s opinion that green vehicles play an important part in reducing air pollution in the city.

In his manifesto Mr Livingstone pledges to invest in a new fleet of electric buses and support the development of electric taxis. He says: “Rather than wasting millions of pounds on a vanity project ‘new bus for London’, we will trial induction-charged electric buses, which promise to cost no more than a conventional diesel bus and yet produce zero air pollution.”

Mr Johnson on the other hand said he would roll out electric cars across London with 1,300 new charging points by 2013 whilst increasing the GLA fleet of electric vehicles to 1,000.

Liberal Democrat and Green Party candidates, Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones, also focus on vehicle emissions in their manifestos.


Mr Johnson has previously outlined his plans for air quality in the capital as Mayor of London hen he published his air quality strategy ‘Clearing the Air’ in December 2010. In this, he highlighted four key measures to increasing air quality. These were: reducing emissions from transport; targeting air quality priority locations; reducing emissions from homes and businesses; and, increasing awareness of air quality issues.

Mr Johnson’s ultimate target is to reduce carbon emissions in the capital by 60% from the 1990 levels by 2025.

To tackle this Mr Johnson states in his manifesto that he has secured £5 million to create a Clean Air Fund from London to improve air quality in hotspots. He says among, a range of  other things the fund will:

  • Target reducing pollution at the worst hotspots for particulate matter (PM10)
  • Reduce idling of vehicles through a variety of measures including enforcement
  • Installing diesel particulate filters on buses travelling along hotspot locations

Also on the Conservative agenda is the Mayor’s Low Carbon Prize. In his manifesto Mr Johnson outlines what it entails. He says: “It is important for City Hall to show positive leadership, and to foster innovative green technology, I have introduced the Mayor’s prize to new research into low carbon technology. The £20,000 prize is targeted at students, without cost to the public purse.”

Lib Dem

Both the Labour and Conservative candidates were criticised by their rival Brian Paddick who says in his 2012 manifesto that in their terms as Mayor they had failed to take action to meet the legal and health limits for air quality.

LibDem mayoral candidate Brian Paddick

In his manifesto he says: “Pollution has a serious health impact; it causes thousands of premature deaths and makes respiratory conditions such as asthma worse. The Campaign for Clean Air in London has championed what needs to be done. But both previous mayors have failed to rise to the challenge and take the action needed to meet legal and health limits.”

Mr Paddick states that he will help to achieve a zero carbon London by 2030 by promoting energy efficiency and developing new technologies.

He also says he will revise the Air Quality Strategy to set out “exactly what needs to be done” to achieve clean healthy air for Londoners and focus on cleaning up transport by designating a new clean air zone in central London.

Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones


In her manifesto Green Party candidate, Jenny Jones, says she will clean London’s air and comply with air quality laws, developing plans to meet this commitment, whether the government plays its part or not.

To achieve this she says she will introduce a Very Low Emission Zone in central London and create a ban on idling for parked vehicles. In her manifesto she says she will ensure that all buses are low emission hybrid, hydrogen of electric models within one year of being elected and will buy a fleet of low emission taxis for drivers to rent if they cannot afford to buy one. She will also ensure that all planning permissions are air quality neutral.


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