21st Mar 2018

London to tax older cars to combat pollution

  • London already had an emissions zone, but now will charge a daily £10 tax for cars older than 2006 (Photo: EURIST e.V.)

The city of London is introducing a tax on cars older than 12 years in an effort to combat air pollution.

The emissions charge will start on 23 October, London's centre-left mayor Sadiq Kahn said on Twitter on Friday (17 February).

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  • Stimulating the use of bikes can make people longer lives (Photo: chany crystal)

“It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems,” Kahn said in a press release.

If cars, vans or trucks do not have the European emissions standard Euro 4 or higher, they will have to pay a daily £10 tax – around €11.60 – every time they enter central London.

That means cars registered before 2006 will be taxed. Charge dodgers can be fined £130 (€151) – which will be halved if paid within two weeks.

London, like many European cities, is struggling with harmful pollutants emitted on the road. The city estimated that some 9,000 Londoners died prematurely because of health problems caused by too much emissions.

The Dieselgate scandal, which involved carmakers producing vehicles that are only fully compliant with the emission standards during the official certification test, also has had an impact.

Several cities have opted to ban older cars, especially diesel cars, from their inner cities.

The European Commission recently said only five of 28 EU member states are able to stay within EU air pollution limits.

In particular diesel vehicles are emitting much more nitrogen dioxides (NO2) in reality than should be expected from the emissions standards.

The commission advises cities to take measures.

“Measures to achieve NO2 compliance have to target diesel vehicles in particular e.g. by introducing progressively stringent low emission zones in inner city areas or by phasing out preferential tax treatment,” the European Commission said earlier this month in a report.

Biking benefits

The Dutch city Utrecht has in recent years tried to promote biking, apparently with success.

A report published Friday said that in 2010, Utrechters travelled some 563 kilometres by bike. Five years later, that increased to 616 kilometres.

The authors estimated that car drivers who switch to bikes add between three and fourteen months to their life.

Including all societal benefits, like increased life expectancy, air quality, the societal benefits amount to some €250 million per year.

Dieselgate casts doubt over low emission zones

Many European cities use low emission zones, and some are considering to ban dirty cars. But there are limits to how well the EU standards can be used to determine which cars are clean.

End company-car perks, says EU commission

The European Commission tells member states that they should phase out tax breaks for privately used company cars and put in place low-emission zones to improve air quality.


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