Campaigner questions Mayor’s air quality gongs

Air quality campaigner criticises decision to give Boris Johnson an award for his work to cut pollution in the capital

An air quality campaigner has branded the decision to hand the Mayor of London Boris Johnson two awards for his work to cut pollution emissions as ‘laughable’.

Mr Johnson was announced as the winner of two prizes at the C40 Siemens Cities Climate Leadership Awards in New York on Monday (September 22), one for his work to cut emissions from London’s taxis and another for the city’s carbon accounting method.

Boris Johnson received an accolade for his work to remove older, more polluting taxis from London's streets

Boris Johnson received an accolade for his work to remove older, more polluting taxis from London’s streets

This is despite parts of London still having the highest proportion of deaths linked to the effects of air quality in the UK. Figures published last year showed that in 2010 as many as 9% of deaths could be linked to air pollution in some areas of the capital (see story

Simon Birkett, founder and director of air quality lobby group Clean Air in London, questioned the progress made by the Mayor in tackling air pollution in the capital.

Commenting after Monday’s award ceremony, he said: “Boris is killing the taxi industry not saving it! He should be using his Twitter account to issue smog warnings not begging people to vote for him to win this prestigious international award.

“The reality of Boris’s taxi strategy is that drivers are forced to buy one of two large, relatively expensive diesel vehicles because they are the only ones meeting the anachronistic 25-foot turning circle requirement.”


According to the Mayor’s office, since his appointment in 2008, half as many Londoners now live in areas exceeding legal limits for NO2, emissions of particulates have fallen by 15% and nitrogen oxide emissions have fallen 20%, thanks to the Mayor’s policies on air quality.

Mr Johnson’s measures to tackle emissions from taxis includes age limits for older vehicles, and work with vehicle manufacturers to encourage a zero emission taxi which could be used within the capital.

The Mayor has also been involved in the development of a new methodology for measuring a city’s carbon impact — PAS 2070.

Both of these projects have been recognised by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group an organisation made up of environmental representatives from some of the world’s largest cities.

Collecting the awards on behalf of the Mayor, London’s senior advisor for the environment and energy, Matthew Pencharz, himself a member of the board of directors of C40 Cities, said: “The Mayor is leading the most ambitious and comprehensive package of measures in the world to reduce carbon emissions and improve London’s air quality, an urgent challenge which affects the health and well-being of all Londoners. As London’s low carbon sector continues to grow, he is leading the way in promoting new low emission technology. At the heart of his plans is the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2020.”


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Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
9 years ago

Why hasn’t any UK-based academic published a study showing the falling infant mortality rates after
1. The switch to clean North Sea Gas from toxic town gas in the late 1960s-early 1970s

“In this paper, we use the variation across space and time in the expansion of natural gas infrastructure in Turkish provinces using data between 2001 and 2011. Our results indicate that the rate of increase in the use of natural gas has resulted in a significant reduction in the rate of infant mortality in Turkey.”

Air Pollution and Infant Mortality: Evidence from the Expansion of Natural Gas Infrastructure

2. Following abatement of power station emissions.

Air pollution and infant mortality: A natural experiment from power plant desulfurization.

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