diesel exhaust

UK city leaders call for 2030 end date for petrol and diesel vehicle sales

The government should bring forward its ban on the sale of new diesel and petrol cars to 2030, according to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and other major city leaders.

The cross-party leaders, representing around 20 million people from towns and cities in England and Wales, want the current plans to phase out the vehicles from 2040 brought forward in order to tackle the nation’s growing air-quality health crisis.

The government has already faced criticism from MPs in March, who said then that the original 2040 date “lacks ambition”.

Poor air quality is estimated to contribute to more than 40,000 premature deaths across the UK each year, with emissions from cars and vans costing the NHS £6bn annually.

Research has shown that the phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles would lead to a 30 per cent reduction in pollution in 2030.

The call from city leaders comes just before the government is due to flesh out its proposals for the “Road to Zero” 2040 ban.

The issue is set to be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday at a national air quality summit organised by the Mayor of London, UK100 and IPPR.

The summit will see city leaders, Members of Parliament and the environment secretary Michael Gove discuss plans to improve the country’s air quality.

Together, the city leaders will reiterate their commitment to working together to reduce emissions and tackle pollution for the good of the country.

In addition to taking strong action in their own areas, this will include calling for the earlier phasing out of diesel and petrol vehicles; an enhanced Clean Air Fund from government and manufacturers that will support Clean Air Zones; a targeted national vehicle renewal scheme to replace older polluting vehicles, and a Clean Air Act that sets strict air-quality limits.

“Air pollution is not an isolated problem, it’s a national health crisis,” said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

“Our country’s filthy air is shortening lives, damaging lungs and severely impacting on the NHS. That’s why we’re bringing together city leaders from across England and Wales to put this at the top of the agenda.

“We have to take bold action, but while we’re all doing that we can, we need government support to do even more. Banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, providing support to deliver Clean Air Zones in cities and introducing a national vehicle renewal scheme will dramatically improve our air quality and our health.”

The leaders – including Mayors and city leaders covering Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and the West Midlands – will say that they want to play their part in an ambitious national plan for clean air that prioritises action to reduce road transport emissions, provides new powers to tackle other sources of pollution and creates a framework to support partnerships between local, regional and national government and its agencies, including Highways England and businesses.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We have all been too complacent about the public health crisis of people breathing in illegal, polluted air. It is damaging health and shortening lives, particularly in our poorest communities.

“Greater Manchester is ready to break out of that and show the ambition needed to clean up our air, but we can’t do it alone. We need to see the same level of ambition from the government in the form of substantial, up-front investment.

“With my fellow Mayors, I am calling on the government to fund a fair diesel scrappage scheme and end the sale of new pure diesel and petrol cars and vans ten years earlier than planned by 2030. We also need to see major investment in the public transport infrastructure of Northern England if people here are to have an alternative to the car. It is only radical action on this scale that will tackle this problem and save lives.”

Cities in Europe have also been ramping up action against diesel vehicles. A court ruling in February stated that German cities may ban heavily polluting diesel cars due to air pollution in urban areas. 

Last year, Paris also started enforcing a complete ban on diesel cars registered before December 2000.

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