City of London Considering Ban on Non-EVs to Cut Air Pollution

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【Summary】City of London’s air quality chief claims the upcoming plan the city’s mayor has in store won’t go far enough in curbing the city's worsening air pollution and has come out with a temporary solution by banning gasoline- and diesel-powered cars on specific streets.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 26, 2018 8:30 AM PT
City of London Considering Ban on Non-EVs to Cut Air Pollution

Large cities and even countries around the world have come up with plans to ban the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars. Last July, France and the United Kingdom both agreed to stop the sale of just gas-powered vehicles by 2040. The goal is to get a handle on air pollution. 

Some countries, like China, have already started banning vehicles. At the end of last year, China banned 553 car models that didn't meet the country's strict emission regulations. While China's decision may have come off as dramatic, it looks like the City of London is considering to do something similar in the near future. 

Reducing Air Pollution By Banning Non-EVs

According to the U.K.'s The Week, the City of London is considering a pilot program that would temporarily ban gas- and diesel-powered cars from specific streets that have low-emission restrictions. Citing the Financial Times, The Week states that London's financial center has some of the "worst hotspots" for nitrogen dioxide (NOx) pollution in the city. According to the article, the financial center's narrow roads that are usually congested are surrounded by tall buildings. This is a recipe for a pocket of air pollution. 

To help curb the high levels of pollution in the area, Ruth Calderwood, the City of London's air quality chief, states that the financial district could develop a program that would see the introduction of "ultra low emission vehicle" roads. On these stretches of tarmac, only electrified vehicles like EVs and plug-in hybrids would be permitted to pass. This would be a clear way to ban gas- and diesel-powered cars. 

Apparently, the ban on specific roads would be put into place to help reduce overall pollution in the city. Speaking with The Financial Times, Calderwood stated that she didn't believe London Mayor Sadiq Khan's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) plan would have enough of an impact on the city's air pollution issue. The ULEZ won't go into effect until next April, and even then, Calderwood isn't too sure that it will be enough. 

"We are going to have to look at additional measures at our busiest roadsides," said Calderwood. 

A Permanent Solution Still Doesn't Exist

Calderwood's plan would be one of the first of its kind globally and could have an immediate impact on air pollution in London's financial district. It would also ease the city into Khan's ULEZ plan next April. It would also give the city a look at the kind of impact the ULEZ plan will have on London's pollution issue. While Calderwood's proposal would be a minor solution, she understands that a trial needs to be conducted before a more permanent solution comes to light. 

"We want to make sure about the availability of vehicles: we don't want to introduce something that's going to be a problem," she said. 

According to an Auto Express report back from 2016, the City of London's Walbrook Wharf and Beech Street had emission levels that were well above the EU's annual limit. Reportedly, the streets were responsible for emitting approximately double 40 micrograms per cubic meter of NOx gases, roughly double than the EU's limit per year. 

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