Although seen a controversial by some, Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion could potentially save thousands of lives from the effects of air pollution.
Many big cities around the world have taken measures to curb down air pollution generated by motor vehicles. A good example is Mexico City’s “Hoy no circula” (Today your car does not drive), a program that has been around since the late 1980s, and on which cars with plates ending on specific digits cannot be on the streets on certain days. People caught driving vehicles that were not supposed to be out on a given day were fined. Sometimes, the vehicles were even taken away, something that happened very often.
Although people were at first skeptical (and annoyed) about the program, good results have been obtained throughout the years. Mexico City’s incredibly polluted sky has seen improvements since the introduction of “Hoy no circula”, although a lot of work must be done. It is a large city, and new cars are introduced on its streets every week. The program is still going to this day.
London’s own Ultra Low Emission Zone (Or ULEZ for short) is not that old. It was first drafted back in 2014, when Boris Johnson was mayor, and introduced by current mayor, Sadiq Khan, on April 8, 2019, in the entirety of Central London. Unlike Mexico City’s program, ULEZ does not forbid the circulation of certain vehicles, but introduces a requirement: vehicles in the Zone need to meet the emission standards or pay a daily fine of £12.50 to drive within.
This was enough to cause a drop in the circulation of the most air polluting vehicles, which caused a 20% reduction in emissions in the area of Central London, just four months after the introduction of ULEZ. Because of this success, in 2021 ULEZ was expanded to include Inner London, a much wider area. This saw a further drop in the number of polluting vehicles circulating on weekdays, from 127,000 to 80,000. The program has been so effective, that there are plans now to further expand it intro Greater London.
The effects that ULEZ has had on air quality are palpable. Concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), one of the most dangerous chemicals created by industrial processes and motor vehicles, have seen a considerable reduction in Central London since the program’s implementation. As much as five times as quickly as it did in the rest of the UK. This is a significant victory against air pollution, which has been blamed as the cause behind up to 4,000 premature deaths in London.
One of them was 2019’s Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who was nine years old when she died after developing asthma due the filthy air around the South Circular, one of the areas the new ULEZ expansion will cover. Her case is significant, because she’s the first person in the UK whose certificate lists air pollution as the cause of death. He mother, who has campaigned for a bigger awareness of air pollution, is one of the many supporters behind the growth of ULEZ.
The mayor himself, Sadiq Khan, considers this not only as a means to improve London’s air quality, but also as a form of social justice, as it is the poorest communities the ones that are hit hardest by air pollution. Nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car, he has said, but they are disproportionally feeling the damaging consequences polluting vehicles are causing.
Despite the positive effects ULEZ has had in the areas where it is implemented, the program is not without its critics. Daily fees of £12.50 for cars that do not meet the criteria for clean circulation is seen as taxing by many, especially in these post-pandemic days, when many people are struggling with the costs of living, as stated by the Transport minister, Andrew Stephenson.
There is also the question of car ownership. Owning a petrol car newer than 2005 or a diesel one newer than 2015 is good enough to be ULEZ compliant and avoid the fee. Yet around 100,000 vehicles in London do not meet this minimum standard. Although the Mayor’s office has declared that acquiring such vehicles is not expensive, critics have pointed out that people who struggle to pay a daily £12.50 to drive their vehicles are not in the position to buy second-hand, or anything at all.
Like everything else, fixing air pollution requires various approaches. Despite its problems, ULEZ is a very good first step. It addresses the issue at hand and has the support of many people within the affected areas. Like Mexico City’s “Hoy no circula” program, ULEZ will require time to show its long-term effects against London’s air pollution. We must remember that this is a problem that has been going on for many decades now: it won’t be fixed overnight. It will take time, but when the results are in, we will see that ULEZ does for outdoors air what clean filtering solutions, like ours at AIR8, do for our indoor environments.
We specialize in filtering solutions that use medical-grade HEPA-13 technology, which is the most effective means against indoor concentrations of dangerous pollutants, such as Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), PM 2.5 particles, pollen, aerosols, animal dander and all kinds of pathogens and viruses, such as Covid-19.
We have different models for different needs. Depending one the one you choose, you will be looking at a solution with four to six stages of pre-filtration and filtration built in. These include Activated Carbon, Cold Catalyst, Ionisation and UV-GI Light. HEPA technology filters out 99.97% of all dangerous air pollutants; that means that when you acquire one of our air filters, we can guarantee that your office is going to be a space where the air will be the most fresh, clean and sanitary.
We offer the best product at the best price in the market. Quiet, automated, clean and efficient, with the highest Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and backed up by extensive TÜV tests. We like to pride ourselves in the quality of our product, but also in the knowledge that it is one of the prime tools of defense against indoors pollution. ULEZ may take some time to fully clean the air in London, but with AIR8 you will see results in no time.