London Gets Aggressive About Pollution

In recent years, foggy Londontown has been more like smoggy Londontown—that’s because diesel vehicle emissions have gone unchecked, spewing toxic nitrogen dioxide chemicals into an air that was more souplike than fresh.

Now, however, the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, plans to do something about it.

He’s proposed a doubling in funds to combat air pollution, and aims to improve overall air quality via new measures. The biggest move: he plans to improve the more than 9,000 buses in the city’s public bus fleet, retrofitting them to operate on clean diesel fuel or replace buses outright. He also will be creating a compensation fund to prompt taxi drivers to replace older taxis with electric or hydrogen-fueled cars with zero emissions.

In addition, he’s developed a “low emissions zone” in the city, where older diesel vehicles that produce more nitrogen dioxide pay more to enter. That hopefully will encourage owners of these vehicles to replace them in the long run.

“With nearly 10,000 Londoners dying early every year due to air pollution, tackling poor air quality is a public health emergency that requires bold action,” Khan said. “I want London to be a world leader in how we respond to the challenge of cleaning up our air.”

Still, there’s a long way to go. To wit: a plan proposed by the mayor to ban older cars altogether was voted down by the local government.