New London Mayor urged to focus on cutting congestion

Think tank IPPR sets out package of air quality policy recommendations for winning Mayoral candidate on May 5

Whoever becomes London Mayor after the May 5 election must set out a plan to tackle air pollution by bringing congestion charging and the ULEZ scheme together, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

IPPR's Michael Jacobs addresses attendees at the launch of the policy report

IPPR’s Michael Jacobs addresses attendees at the launch of the policy report

Publishing its package of green recommendations yesterday (April 6) for the new London Mayor, IPPR called on the successful candidate to assess the feasibility of an expanded ‘road-pricing scheme’ that would bring together current congestion charging and ultra low emission zones (ULEZ).

This, the think tank said, could cover areas in the capital inside the north and south circular roads and would simultaneously tackle air pollution, congestion and CO2 emissions.

In addition, IPPR said this could raise revenue to reinvest in public transport, cycling and walking as well as support the expansion of electric vehicles and car-sharing schemes. Furthermore, this revenue could provide assistance to adversely affected small businesses.

Without taking action to manage increased traffic demand, IPPR estimates there will be a 43% increase in passenger vehicle miles between 2013 and 2030. The resulting congestion will decrease average road speeds from 21mph today to a predicted 16mph by 2030, with speeds in central London “significantly below this”.

The think tank said that air pollution is primarily driven by emissions from transport in London and that its impacts “fall disproportionally on lower-income groups and children: nearly 25 per cent of school children are exposed to levels of air pollution that break EU and WHO legal and health limits”.

‘Lethal and illegal’

London’s air pollution is “lethal and illegal, responsible for more illness and premature deaths than alcohol or obesity” according to the think tank, while “traffic congestion is rising,” it added.

IPPR is therefore calling on the new Mayor to make London a ‘global green city’ buy ensuring the Transport for London (TfL) bus fleet meets air pollution standards as soon as 2019 and continuing with “strong investment” in cycling and walking infrastructure.

Elsewhere, IPPR also urges for an expanded electric vehicle charging network, while it suggests that car sharing schemes could be better promoted through the introduction of on-street parking permits for such schemes.

In order to develop these policies, IPPR calls for the new Mayor to engage with and draw on the expertise of London’s communities and civic organisations.

Other policy suggestions include establishing a fully licensed electricity and gas supplier firm — ‘Energy for London’ — as well as developing a dedicated solar strategy to develop at least 750MW of solar power by 2025 and improving energy efficiency for London’s homes and workplaces.

“This important report should be required reading for all of the Mayoral candidates” – Alan Andrews, ClientEarth.

The IPPR recommendations come as part of a package of environmental policies set out by the think tank and which are aimed at the winning candidate in the London Mayor elections on May 5, with Labour MP Sadiq Khan and Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith the current frontrunners.

The Green Party’s Sian Berry is also in the running alongside Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pigeon as well as veteran politician George Galloway.


Environmental NGO ClientEarth, which is currently involved in legal action against the UK government over air pollution levels, praised the “important” IPPR report as “required reading for all candidates”.

ClientEarth lawyer, Alan Andrews, said: “London is consistently breaking legal limits for pollution and Londoners want their next Mayor to take tough action to clean it up. London’s toxic and illegal air undermines its status as a world-class city. This report shows that we need bold policies if we are to change that and help Londoners breathe more easily.”


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