London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for greater air pollution controls

Brexit could make it harder to fight air pollution London Mayor Sadiq Khan has warned as he outlined plans to tackle the "issue of life and death" in the capital.

Khan set out proposals to charge the most polluting vehicles £10 a day in the centre of the city from 2017 and extend the planned ‘ultra-low emissions zone’ - with charges for dirty cars, vans, coaches and lorries - to cover more of London.

Plans are also expected on encouraging electric cars, pedestrianising roads such as Oxford Street and tackling pollution from construction.

The mayor said air pollution, which causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths a year across the UK, had to be tackled nationwide.

Khan called for the government to bring in a national diesel scrappage scheme to encourage people to get rid of the most polluting vehicles. He also warned that leaving the European Union could strip the public of the protection of EU clean air standards.

At a speech at central London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, Khan said: "The EU has an established legal framework on tackling air pollution which has now become part of UK law.

"Without this, it is doubtful the government would have even taken the limited action they've taken so far.

"On top of this, pollution clearly does not respect borders and ultimately this is a problem we can only solve with co-ordinated action across cities and countries.

"Clearly the UK leaving the EU could weaken our ability to tackle air pollution and it could mean the public could end up with less legal protection over their right to breathe clean air."

On the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Clean Air Act, which cut coal pollution in the wake of 1952's killer ‘Big Smog’ in London, Khan joined calls made by environmental lawyers ClientEarth to bring in new air pollution legislation for the 21st century.

He called for a new Clean Air Act to put in place the ‘strongest possible’ legal protections to make sure the existing EU limits were not undone by Brexit.

The International Energy Agency recently called for global changes to the way the world uses and produces energy in order to avoid premature deaths from air pollution which it believes are set to rise under current circumstances. 

E&T recently featured Shazia Ali-Webber, a London solicitor who runs sensors to monitor air pollution in London as part of the 'I Love Clean Air' citizen science campaign.

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