A local bus passes an ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) sign on the South Circular at Tulse Hill in London, England on July 21, 2023. Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images

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To reduce traffic emissions in the City of London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has expanded London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which imposes a daily charge on the vehicles that pollute most, to the entire city.

The new zone will make the air cleaner for an additional five million people, as well as reduce carbon emissions by an expected nearly 30,000 tons in London’s outer boroughs, a press release from the Greater London Authority said.

“This is a landmark day for our city which will lead to a greener, healthier London for everyone,” Khan said in the press release. “The decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide was a difficult one, but necessary to save lives, protect children’s lungs and help prevent asthma, dementia and other health issues.”

The ULEZ is the main strategy Khan is using to reduce air pollution in London. Additional measures include more zero-emissions buses, as well as adding electric vehicle charging stations to the city’s network.

Central London air pollution has already been reduced by almost half because of ULEZ, and inner London’s air pollution has been cut by one-fifth.

“Today is a major milestone for cleaner air in the capital as the scheme expands London-wide. The expansion will play a significant role in our fight against the triple challenges of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion,” said Christina Calderato, director of strategy and policy at Transport for London, in the press release.

The purpose of the ULEZ is to encourage people to stop driving the most polluting vehicles in London. On average, 90 percent of vehicles driven in outer London are already complying with pollution limits and drivers will not be required to pay the charge. A vehicle scrappage program has made thousands of pounds available to those who choose to get rid of their old polluting car, in addition to the vehicle’s scrappage value.

“I know that with the cost-of-living crisis some people have been worried about what it means for them financially, that’s why it’s also been great to see that more support is being offered to all Londoners to get polluting vehicles off the road. Cleaner air is within touching distance!” said East London general practitioner Dr. Emma Radcliffe in the press release.

Londoners who have non-compliant cars are eligible for two thousand pounds for scrapping their vehicle or one thousand pounds for scrapping their motorcycle. Charities and small businesses can get increased grant payments as well. Exemptions have been made for wheelchair accessible vehicles and disabled people until October of 2027.

Khan has invested 160 million pounds in the scrappage program for the expansion of ULEZ.

“As Mayor, I’ve continued to listen to the concerns of Londoners, which is why we have massively expanded the scrappage scheme. This means all Londoners with non ULEZ-compliant cars can now get financial support to switch to greener, less polluting alternatives,” Khan said in the press release. “We still have millions of pounds left in the scrappage scheme pot, so I encourage all Londoners who are impacted by ULEZ to apply today for the support we’ve made available.  I continue to call on the Government to give London and Home Counties money for scrappage, as they have other cities around the UK.”

Since 2019, the ULEZ has prevented more than 880,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equal to 1.1 million flights between London and New York. It has also helped to lower the number of asthma admissions for children related to air pollution by one-third.

“As a mother, a doctor and a Londoner, I’m proud to see just how seriously London is taking its commitment to tackling air quality in order to safeguard the health and future of our city’s children,” said Dr. Anna Moore, respiratory consultant at a London hospital, in the press release. “For those with respiratory conditions, cleaner air makes all the difference. This policy is fighting for every single Londoner’s right to breathe air that will nurture our lungs, not poison them.”

The revenue raised through the ULEZ, which isn’t expected until the 2026 to 2027 financial year, will be put back into public transportation, including the expansion of outer London bus services.

“All the evidence shows that it’s clean air zones like ULEZ that are the gamechanger in a city like London when it comes to cutting toxic air quickly and meaningfully to protect people’s health. It’s thanks to the ULEZ that we are now set to get London’s air to within legal limits in the next couple of years, 184 years earlier than previously projected,” Khan said in the press release.

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