Mayors want ban on diesels brought in a decade earlier

The Times, 18 June 2018

The leaders of 14 of the largest and most polluted cities intend to call on the government today to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2030, ten years sooner than planned.

The Labour and Conservative mayors and council leaders, who represent 20 million residents, want conventional cars and vans phased out to cut air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

They are also calling for a scrappage scheme to help drivers switch to cleaner vehicles and for a clean air act with tough limits on pollution enforced by an independent statutory body.

Pollution from cars and vans causes 10,000 early deaths a year and costs the NHS and society £6 billion a year, according to a report this month by Oxford and Bath universities.

The leaders, who are due to meet Michael Gove, the environment secretary, at a “clean air summit” in London on Wednesday, all represent cities with illegal levels of air pollution.

They include Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London; Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester; Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands; Steve Rotheram, mayor of Liverpool city region; and the leaders of Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Leicester, Newcastle, Oxford, Peterborough, Sheffield and Southampton councils. All are Labour apart from Mr Street and John Holdich, leader of Peterborough city council, who are Conservative.

Mr Gove announced last year that the sale of new, non-hybrid diesel and petrol cars would be banned by 2040. The Netherlands, India and Republic of Ireland have pledged to ban these cars by 2030 and Norway by 2025.

The 14 leaders reckon that bringing forward the ban would reduce pollution by almost a third by 2030 and boost the economy by making the UK a global leader in low-emission technology.

The AA criticised the proposal, saying that such a rapid ban was unrealistic. Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “We believe 2040 is a realistic timetable for manufacturers to adapt and change vehicle production, for electric charging infrastructure to be developed and the capacity of the electric grid enhanced, and for drivers to be ready for the change.

“The last thing we need is for the goalposts to be constantly moving as happened in the dash and then demonisation of diesel.”

The government is preparing to publish its Road to Zero strategy, which is expected to give details of how diesel and petrol vehicles will be phased out. Environmental groups want to see targets requiring manufacturers to sell more zero-emission cars.

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