London Mayor urges government to help cut air pollution

Boris Johnson says he wants “sweetest and cleanest” air of any city in Europe while launching air quality manifesto

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called on the UK government to step up its efforts on tackling air quality in order to help the capital comply with EU nitrogen dioxide limits by 2020.

Launching his air quality manifesto yesterday evening, Mr Johnson said his proposed measures would bring the capital “two thirds” of the way towards EU compliance by 2020, but that only work from the government through encouraging cleaner vehicles and transport would help the city push the city the final stretch to compliance.

The London Mayor Boris Johnson launching his air quality manifesto at Mansion House yesterday (July 29)

The London Mayor Boris Johnson launching his air quality manifesto at Mansion House yesterday (July 29)

The Mayor’s air quality manifesto includes measures such as charging diesel drivers a £10 low emission zone fee, launching an air quality public awareness campaign and expanding London’s electric bus fleet (see story).

Mr Johnson said yesterday: “Take all those measures together and you can cut particulate NOx by 20%. That is stunning. That will get us most of the way there for dealing with our air quality problems.

“We can do it — we can get the greatest city in Europe two thirds of the way there on those measures. What we want is government to come in and push us the last third of the way there, so that we have the sweetest and the cleanest air than any city in Europe.”

He added: “Who knows, one day children may come in from rural areas to breathe in London air?”

Mr Johnson also took a pot shot at Westminster MPs using cars in the city instead of public transport, arguing that they should be “interacting with the public”.

He joked: “But above all we want our government ministers sucking London air into their lungs like the rest of us.”


Elsewhere in his speech, the Mayor also said that London “should get the lion’s share of money” from the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), which provides funding to councils to boost electric and hybrid fleets.

London Mayor air manifesto launch (1)“We will make the most of it,” he said.

And, Mr Johnson also refuted suggestions that parts of London had the worst air quality in Europe (see story): “It is not correct that London is the worst afflicted city in the world. That is simply not correct – Delhi, Stuttgart, Munich, Milan – we beat them all on NOx.”

He added that during the Saharan dust and other air pollution outbreaks earlier this year “there were parts of Norfolk that were worse than London”.

Jokingly referring to air quality improvements over the last decade and also to his length of time in office, Mr Johnson said: “We have come a long way in the last six years — just to pick a period of time at random. That has been achieved by a huge range of measures. We do have the technology and we can be much, much more ambitious.”

London Councils

Prior to the Mayor’s speech, chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, Julian Bell, also addressed the audience in support of the measures announced yesterday and plans for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London.

However, in his speech, Ealing borough councillor Bell called for the ULEZ to be implemented sooner than 2020 and to be expanded beyond Central London.
“I think there is a case for bringing the Low emission zone forward from 2020 and expanding it to include wider London boroughs.”

Last month, London Councils — which represents all 33 borough authorities in the capital — said that passing EU fines for nitrogen dioxide limit breaches was “unfair” (see story) — a stance reiterated yesterday by councillor Bell.

He said: “Any decision to pass on those fines to local government would be counter-productive.”


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Valentine Tenanty
Valentine Tenanty
9 years ago

About 3 years ago we offered the Mayor of London access to affordable technology that could reduce NOx, SOx and PM by as much as 55-60%!
Now then – with Boris being over the moon about a possible 20% reduction – obviously he has not even considered looking at this technology – even for a trial…Shame!

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