Reducing carbon emissions has become one of the biggest talking points in the car industry, especially in London. The capital is considering a pilot scheme that would temporarily ban non-electric cars for specific low emission streets. According to the Financial Times, the financial centre has some of the “worst hotspots” for nitrogen dioxide (NOx) pollution. This is due to the congested roads that are decked out with high buildings.
London’s air quality chief Ruth Calderwood said the district could bring in “ultra low emission vehicle” roads that only electric and plug-in hybrid cars could drive on. Calderwood believes that London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which is happening from April 2019, won’t do enough to reduce city pollution.
The ULEZ doesn’t stop certain car types from accessing London, but owners of petrol and diesel vehicles that are over ten years old will need to pay a fee on top of the current £11.50 congestion charge. It remains to be seen what kind of impact the ULEZ will have on pollution levels in London.
In 2016, statistics showed that Walbrook Wharf and Beech Street had emission levels that were more than double the EU’s yearly limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of NOx gases. Calderwood has faith that ultra-low emission streets will help cut down pollution levels, though she thought the concept needed to be trialled before a more permanent solution is found.
“We are going to have to look at additional measures at our busiest roadsides. We want to make sure about the availability of vehicles: we don’t want to introduce something that’s going to be a problem.”
Despite the uncertainty of the schemes, it could be argued that electric cars will benefit the environment in the long term. The more of them that appear on the road, the more likely it is for carbon emissions to drop.