London’s Air Quality problem
London suffers from very poor air quality, with emissions of Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) frequently breaching legal limits in certain areas including parts of Southwark. Road transport emissions account for around half the total air pollution. Scientific research estimates that in London approximately 9,500 people a year die earlier than they would have due to poor air quality.
The Mayor’s approach
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, published the Mayor’s Transport Strategy and the Environmental Strategy, including the aspiration to improve air quality beyond the legal requirements by 2050 to protect human health and minimise inequalities. Especially because the impacts of air pollution particularly affect the most disadvantaged people, including children, the sick and the elderly. The Mayor aims to ensure that London’s entire transport system is zero-emission by 2050 by:
- reducing car use, and
- switching to cleaner fuels for those trips that need to be driven
The Mayor recently introduced the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to help improve air quality in central London. From 8 April 2019, all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses and heavy vehicles driving in central London that do not meet the emissions standards will be required to pay a daily charge in addition to the Congestion Charge. The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year including weekends and public holidays. For more information about the ULEZ and to check whether your vehicle meets the emission standards, visit Transport for London website.
In Southwark, most of the borough has been declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). The council is legally required to prepare and implement measures to address this issue. Southwark is helping to support the following measures through its Air Quality Strategy & Action Plan and the emerging Movement Plan to:
- increase journeys by walking, cycling and public transport, and reduce car use, and
- support people who need to make essential vehicle trips by installing electric vehicle infrastructure to enable them to switch to low emission vehicles
Page last updated: 28 February 2023