April 8, 2019

London’s New Ultra Low Emission Zone Reduces Pollution, Sickness, Deaths

ULEZ signage in Kennington ahead of the scheme starting in 2019

London leads in the intersection of  health and transportation planning for safer, healthier cities.  Asthma is a lung disease where the airways of the lungs are swollen and  inflamed, making it harder to breathe.  London, United Kingdom is the first city in the world  introducing ULEZ zones in the inner city. ULEZ stands for Ultra-Low Emission Zone and as reported in the Guardian implementation of this zone will “reduce the 36,000 deaths caused in the UK every year by outdoor pollution.”

London is wasting no time with the zone change happening on April 8. The World Health Organization has identified outdoor air pollution as  causing over 4.2 million premature deaths in low, middle and high income countries around the world. In cities particulates from diesel engines enters the bloodstream and damages heart and circulatory systems, impacting the most vulnerable and low-income. Since London estimates  50 percent of air pollution is from vehicles and 40 percent of that from diesel vehicles, charging more for diesel vehicles’ access to the centre city should be a deterrent and have healthy consequences.

The ULEZ zones operate on a 24 hour basis and vehicular charges are based on the type of vehicle and the emissions associated with the vehicle.

When Stockholm introduced its congestion tax to discourage driving in the downtown, pollution levels dropped by 5 to 10 percent and asthma attacks experienced by local children decreased by nearly 50 percent. While a recent Lancet reported study found that London’s low emission zone adopted in 2008 had improved air quality with lowering NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) levels, children were still exposed to particulates. With four hundred schools in London in areas with air quality below WHO recommended levels the new zone will lower diesel particulates. It is estimated that pollution generated by vehicles are half nitrogen oxides (NOx) which add to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM).

You can take a look at this very short  YouTube video from the Mayor of London’s office explaining the new emission zone which plans to reduce air pollution in the central city by 50 percent. The City also has a hashtag for its new plan, at #LetLondonBreathe. London hopes its example will be followed by other cities in the United Kingdom.  London’s emissions zone work provide a road map as congestion pricing is being discussed for potential implementation in Metro Vancouver.


Images: LondraItalia & TransportXtra

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  1. Good to hear finally a focus on something real and practical ie air pollutants as opposed to all this virtue signalling about “saving the planet” ie reduction of greenhouse gases.

    LNG cars or buses are very clean, but are very very rare. We need more of them, or hydrogen fuel vehicles as electric batteries ie electric trucks and electric long range buses are a long LONG way off or might never materialize due to energy density issues of electric batteries. But short-haul trucksm say for longshoremen at the various Vancouver ports would an option is a few years hopefully, but not all the way to Alberta.

    Clearly, one the two major benefits of electric vehicles are their quiet ride and the lack of air pollution when they drive around. Cities could certainly use more of those than stinky diesel buses or trucks !

    1. Sigh… What’s you’re point Beyer? Do you revel in being so ignorant?


      Cars with nearly 1000 km range – for a big price mind you. But just a few years ago you’d have paid close to those prices for 200 km. Today affordable cars get you 200 km.

      Trucks with 800 km range. Completely viable as long haul.

      80% charge in 30 minutes – faster charging is in the works. Solid state batteries that can charge much faster without degrading are working their way into large scale production . Ultra-capacitor/battery hybrids also in the works for far greater efficiency.

      Vancouver to Banff on one charge. Does that count Beyer? Ten minute recharge and off to Calgary. Better than gas. In a few years this will be the norm for modestly priced cars. Not a long LONG way off. Oil companies won’t know what hit them. Get out while you still can.

    2. Here’s a little more info and some work with a crystal ball, aka Excel.

      From easily googled info on global car sales you’ll find, given growth rates going back a decade, that the global MV fleet is growing by about 2% per year but the global EV fleet is growing about 60% per year. If you look at micro trends then growth in the global fleet is slowing while growth in the EV fleet is increasing. One site shows global car sales flat since 2016. Good news.

      Conservatively, just plugging in (get it?) the past long term trends and projecting forward, EV sales reach 10% of sales by 2022 and 100% by 2027. The global fleet would reach almost 60% by 2030. Of course they’ll never reach 100% sales as other alternatives will wedge in and a few hillbillies from Alberta will proudly buy gas guzzlers until the day they die.

      When EV sales make up all the growth in the entire fleet (that’s right about now) then growth in gas demand for MVs stops and begins to fall and then accelerate downwards ever after. For a few years, growth in air travel and long haul shipping will make up the difference, but within a couple more years it just can’t. Even if EV sales were to slow from the current rate, the days of oil are numbered. But with EV prices falling, range increasing, charge times decreasing and charging stations sprouting like mushrooms it’s really hard to imagine that. Not to mention carbon pricing rolling out across the globe.

      China is leading the way on EV production and sales. Oil rich Norway is way ahead of them per capita.

      Why would we build new pipelines?

      What I fear is the estimated $250 billion in unfunded cleanup of the tar sands that us taxpayers will be on the hook for. Most of those oil companies are going to go bankrupt and leave it to us.

      As usual.

      1. Great commentary, Ron.

        With the overheated bombast currently blowing over the Rockies from the east, stuff about cutting off BC’s fuel supply, mocking BC’s sense of environmental responsibility and so forth, I would hope that Victoria considers ramping up the sales of EVs under the Clean Energy BC policy to 80% of all car sales by 2029 instead of 2040.

        Ideally, we wouldn’t be promoting cars of any kind but instead catalyzing the construction of more transit in all its forms in BC cities, electric intercity commuter rail, urban design that fosters walkable neighbourhoods everywhere, and building more renewable energy capacity that dovetails with a better effort in conservation. But there remains a stubborn attachment to personal private transport in areas where transit alternatives are reasonably good (albeit other areas where it is terrible). This is where the increasing fossil fuel prices can be used for leverage.

        I left Alberta 40 years ago. I haven’t been back since my last close elder passed in 2015. Given the high levels of condescension, bullying and threats directed to BC over its discomfiture on the Trans Mountain expansion project, and its insultingly arrogant economic hegemony directed to everyone else while ignoring its decline, I celebrated the anniversary of my departure with champagne last month and, given the Neanderthal social conservatism underpinning the the frontrunner in the current election campaign, I expect to make staying out permanent.

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