City leaders and Mayors across the UK are calling on the government to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2030.
The move would bring forward an initial proposal to phase-out these polluting vehicles by 2040, something the group sees as not soon enough.
The politicians represent over 20 million people in England and Wales, covering major cities, including London, Bristol, Cardiff, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Oxford, and Sheffield.
The sign of unity comes close to tht start of a national summit on clean air to be held in London this week. The leaders are also calling for stronger air quality standards in the form of a new Clean Air Act, a vehicle renewal scheme, and a fund to invest in cleaner modes of transport.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We have to take bold action, but while we’re all doing what we can, we need government support to do even more. Banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, providing support to deliver Clean Air Zones in cities and introducing a national vehicle renewal scheme will dramatically improve our air quality and our health.”
Mayor Khan has already initiated a number of schemes to clean up the level of air pollution. These include the creation of a new Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which will ensure all vehicles meet strict pollution standards, or face a fine.
It is widely known that air pollution, in the form of particulate matter, and nitrogen oxide, is a major contributor to health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer. The Royal College of Physicians linked high levels of air pollution to 40,000 premature deaths every year in the UK.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “We have all been too complacent about the public health crisis of people breathing in illegal, polluted air. It is damaging health and shortening lives, particularly in our poorest communities. Greater Manchester is ready to break out of that and show the ambition needed to clean up our air.”
The government has already been successfully sued on three occasions for allowing illegal levels of toxic air to persist across UK cities.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor for Liverpool City Region, said: “Air pollution is no respecter of boundaries so it is vital that we have concerted action at a national level to effectively tackle an issue which has such an impact on our people’s health and quality of life.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We need to shift away from diesel as a matter of urgency and I will be an ally for decision-makers especially those in national government who seek to find a way to support ordinary people getting newer cleaner cars to replace their dirty old ones.
Photo Credit: Albert Bridge/CC