Mayor floats 'smart' road charging scheme as part of solution to London reaching net zero

Tue 18 January 2022 View all news

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced plans for London to achieve net zero by 2030. Based on a report by leading transport consultancy and Zemo member Element Energy, commissioned by the Mayor, there are calls for a 27 per cent traffic reduction, more active travel and a new scheme to charge private vehicles for road use, adopting the latest technologies.

The Mayor says that the costs of action on this agenda are outweighed by the costs of inaction. Taking the lead on initiatives such as 'smart' road charging, he says, could also provide a major business opportunity and export potential for businesses involved. The Mayor has asked Transport for London (TfL) to explore a road pricing scheme that would charge users by distance travelled, time, location and the type of vehicle operated. However, as the technology will take time to develop and implement, he has told TfL to consider other options to make drivers pay for the pollution they create before his second term on office ends in May 2024.

The report says that in order to meet climate change targets, car traffic must be cut by at least 27 per cent in London by the end of this decade. It observes that more than a third of car trips made by Londoners could be walked in under 25 minutes and two thirds cycled in under 20 minutes.

The report also says, however, that the Mayor does not have the funding or powers to deliver everything that’s required alone.  Consequently, Sadiq Khan is also calling on the Government to provide much greater support to enable London to meet net zero by 2030 and contribute to the UK's national target, agreed at COP26.  

The Mayor says that In order to reduce transport emissions by anywhere close to the amount required to clean up London’s air and achieve net zero by 2030, as well as cut congestion (which cost the capital £5.1bn in the last year according to a separate recent report) London will have to see a significant shift away from petrol and diesel vehicle use and towards walking and cycling, greater public transport use and cleaner vehicles. 

London has seen a shift to driving during the Covid pandemic with congestion rising and more air pollution.

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said: “This new report must act as a stark wake-up call for the Government on the need to provide much greater support to reduce carbon emissions in London. It’s clear the scale of the challenge means we can’t do everything alone. 

“But I’m not willing to stand by and wait when there’s more we can do in London that could make a big difference. We simply don’t have time to waste. The climate emergency means we only have a small window of opportunity left to reduce carbon emissions to help save the planet, and, despite the world-leading progress we have made over the last few years, there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners.

“It’s clear the cost of inaction – to our economy, to livelihoods, to the environment and to the health of Londoners - would be far greater than the cost of transitioning to net-zero and reducing toxic air pollution. That’s why I’m today beginning a conversation with Londoners, local government and businesses about the best way forward to create the green, sustainable city we all want to see.”

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