London's ultra-low emission zone cuts NO2 pollution by third

23rd October 2019

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  • Pollution & Waste Management


Elouise Smith

NO2 pollution from vehicles has fallen by nearly a third in London since the city introduced an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) earlier this year, new data reveals.

The figures show that roadside NO2 pollution has been cut by 29% since the ULEZ was introduced in April, and by 36% since the preceding Toxicity Charge was first announced in February 2017.

There are 13,500 fewer polluting cars being driven in Central London every day thanks to the zone, according to the data, with 77% of vehicles now meeting clean emissions standards.

The findings from City Hall also suggest that CO2 emissions from road transport in the central zone are 4% lower than if no ULEZ had been introduced.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “These figures prove without a doubt that the ULEZ is exceeding expectations, reducing polluting vehicles and cleaning up our lethal air.

“The ULEZ shows what we can achieve if we implement such ambitious policies. I now hope the government will amend their Environment Bill to ensure it has legally binding World Health Organization-recommended limits to be achieved by 2030.“

City Hall said that polluting vehicles account for around half of London's harmful NOx air emissions, with air pollution estimated to cost the capital up to £3.7bn every year.

The latest figures show that NOx emissions from road transport in the central zone are now 31% lower than if the ULEZ were not in place, putting it on course to meet the 45% reduction target expected in the first year.

It was also found that there was a 3-9% reduction in traffic flows in Central London in May and September this year when compared to 2018, indicating wider benefits of the ULEZ in encouraging walking and cycling.

Moreover, the findings reveal that there has been no increase in pollution around the zone's boundary since it came into force six months ago.

Transport for London director of city planning, Alex Williams, said: “The early evidence suggests that the ULEZ is not only encouraging people to use cleaner private cars, but also to use more sustainable alternatives.

“The ULEZ is also helping to reduce its impact on climate change, with an estimated reduction of road-based carbon dioxide by nearly 100,000 tonnes.

The introduction of the ULEZ this year was a significant moment for Londoners' health, as the evidence of its first six months clearly shows.

Image credit: iStock


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