“Get rid of diesel fuels” warn UK air pollution experts

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A new report by King’s College London and environmental thinktank Policy Exchange is calling for a scrappage scheme for diesel fuels, provided that we want to live longer.

The report claims that a phasing out of diesel cars and boilers would increase the life expectancy of Londoners born in the next ten years by at least a month.

It’s estimated the incentive would produce an annual £600m in economic benefits, primarily in healthcare, as diesel air pollution is estimated to cause around 40,000 premature deaths per year. The figure has doubled in the last 4 years.

Both reporting parties have called on London mayor Boris Johnson to support a proposed 10-point plan, which restricts polluting vehicles in certain areas in the capital, where they are replaced by transport that uses cleaner energy sources. They also suggest that the capital’s next mayor has a responsibility to promote the use of electric vehicles, alongside a scheme that allows old polluting cars to be traded in by the public for rewards.

The report also suggested that London’s most polluted roads, such as Oxford Street, should be declared ‘clean bus corridors’, allowing only clean energy buses to enter. Zero emission buses were announced for release in the capital earlier this year, which coincides with the government’s decision to legislate a move towards zero carbon emissions.

But we must also take further measures, like preventing more decentralised diesel gas power plants being built. The report insists that this would allow us to reach NO2 pollution reduction targets by 2025.

Professor Frank Kelly, director of the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London, said: “It is possible to bring the most polluted parts of London – such as Oxford Street – within legal air quality limits, [but] this will require a concerted effort both by City Hall and national government to reduce emissions from road transport and other sources of pollution.”

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Photo Credit: Michael Lovitt on Flickr.

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