Press Story

Leading think tank IPPR is today (Wednesday) unveiling a radical new plan to help the Mayor and government radically cut air pollution and boost Londoners health.

A cut in London air pollution to bring it to within legal limits could give Londoners up to an extra 1.7 months’ life expectancy. Air pollution in London is a health emergency and is the second most significant social factor in someone’s health after smoking.

IPPR builds on the measures recently proposed by the Mayor of London for his current term by arguing that London will also need a radical plan for after 2020 to comply with legal limits. This plan will need support from London’s government and communities and from across the political spectrum, complemented by action from national government.

IPPR propose that the Mayor of London should:

  • Phase out diesel cars in inner London by the end of the next mayoral term;
  • Consider a charge on all non-zero emissions cars in inner London by 2025, with action on buses, vans and lorries too;
  • Phase out diesel taxis by 2025;
  • Make sure the revenues raised by road charging are reinvested into the public transport network, car sharing, cycling, walking and other sustainable options.

This will need to be complemented with action by Whitehall:

  • A new Clean Air Act that targets air pollution;
  • A diesel scrappage scheme to make the phase out affordable for poorer drivers and businesses;
  • Reform ‘road tax’ so diesel vehicles are not promoted over petrol.

Laurie Laybourn-Langton, IPPR research fellow on climate change, energy and transport policy, said:

“Air pollution in London is at lethal levels. Bringing these levels down will save lives and make the capital more pleasant and prosperous for all Londoners.

“We have provided a clear plan that shows how the mayor can ensure London stops breaking the law and complies with legal limits on air pollution.

“This won’t be easy and so our plan includes a number of measures that reduce the cost to Londoners of cleaning up transport. The costs of inaction, in terms of poor health and lost business, are already too high.

“London’s action needs to be complemented by measures from central government to make the move to cleaner vehicles cheaper, for example through a diesel scrappage scheme, so our message is that Whitehall will need to act as well as the Mayor.”

Professor Stephen Holgate CBE, FMedSci Special Adviser to the Royal College of Physicians said:

"Fumes from diesel engines are the most toxic of all ambient air pollutants linked to human diseases like asthma, strokes and lung cancer. Since Europe has the highest proportion of its car fleet powered by diesel, encouraging solutions to this problem should be one of UK's urgent priorities".



Kieren Walters,, 07921 403651
Sofie Jenkinson,, 07981 023031

Notes to Editors:

1. IPPR believe that the recommendations they are setting out will in effect almost entirely phase out diesel cars in inner London and force moves to cleaner alternatives for other vehicles.

2. Kings College London produced modelling for the report that shows the impact of this type of move to phase out diesel cars in inner London and moving towards cleaner alternatives to other vehicles. This modelling shows that London would be almost entirely brought into compliance with legal levels of air pollution.

3. Embargoed copies of the report are available in advance to media by emailing

4. This report is the latest from IPPR on making London a cleaner, greener and healthier place to live. See the IPPR report 'Global Green City' here:

5. IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

Our independent research is wide ranging, it covers the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas.