London First to Execute 24/7 Ultra Low Emissions Zone
On Monday, Apr. 8, London became the first city in the world to execute a perpetual Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).
Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Low Emissions Zone (LEZ), and Ultra Low Emissions Zones (ULEZ) are terms used to describe geographical locations where there are restrictions placed on the types of vehicles that may drive through. London has introduced the first ULEZ, which currently expands over Central London’s pre-existing congestion charge zone.
The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, incurring a £12.50 ($16.30) daily charge for vehicles, including motorbikes, which fail to meet the exhaust emissions standards listed on the transport for London website. When a vehicle does not pass, the website suggests alternate forms of transportation, including using public transportation or “going electric.” The ULEZ charge is to be paid in addition to the £11.50 congestion charge when entering the city center between Monday and Friday, 7am to 6pm. A standing fine of £160 ($208.69) is incurred when failing to pay the charge.
Cars that don’t meet the exhaust emissions standards include pre-2015 diesels and pre-2006 petrol cars. While current fire engines, police cars, and ambulances will have to be replaced in order to adhere to the new standards, black cabs have been exempt from the ULEZ charges despite releasing “16% of all transport nitrous oxide (NOx) in central London.” Their exemption is most likely due to actions taken by the lobby group that supports them.
According to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the goal of ULEZ is to increase public well being by reducing air pollution. In the UK, exhaust from vehicles is one of the main causes of nitrogen oxide air emission, which contributes “to a toxic air health crisis that increases the risk of asthma, cancer, and dementia as well as causing thousands of premature deaths every year.”
The mayor’s office announced that the ULEZ reduced 20% of NO2 concentrations in the area, and it is believed that the emissions will decrease 45% in the future, thanks to the ULEZ. According to Khan, “thousands of motorists have already started to change their behaviour as they prepare for ULEZ by driving less polluting vehicles into the area, and using cleaner transport alternatives including walking or cycling, and public transport.” On Oct. 25, 2021, the government plans to expand the area to the boundary of the north and south circular roads.