London in bid to reduce pollution from vehicles

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption London’s Mayor has announced a new package of policies to support electric vehicle use

From next year, all new homes and new workplaces will have to install charging points for electric vehicles (EVs), in a bid to slash pollution.

In its first big policy announcement since taking up office, London mayor Sadiq Khan has also said half of all new housing developments should be built “zero carbon” by 2050.

The electric car industry welcomed the new laws, saying they were an “important step”.

Air pollution is regularly rated among the worst environmental impacts of the UK’s widespread motorway and road traffic congestion.

“The air we breathe is one of the most important contributions we make to the environment and public health,” Mr Khan said.

“Thanks to the huge progress being made with electric vehicles, we can now aim to deliver 50% zero carbon homes and workplaces by 2050 and reduce CO2 pollution by more than half.”

Fierce competition

Some parts of London have already made progress towards the mayor’s ambition of achieving a 50% electric car fleet by 2030.

This year, for example, Khan’s previous mayor Boris Johnson said that the number of total sales of EV will rise significantly in 2016, with around 175,000 vehicles expected to be sold, up from approximately 20,000 last year.

But the mayor said that the number of sales of EV continues to remain “well below” his ambition of 500,000 by 2025.

“A recent survey of home owners in London has shown that a lack of charging points is the most important barrier to their adoption,” he said.

From 1 April 2018, all new homes and all new workplaces must provide an electric vehicle charging point for every six households to prevent EV owners from having to visit a public charging station to recharge their vehicle.

Currently, there are no standards for the installation of electric vehicle charging points.

‘One of biggest cases of unsustainable transport’

In April this year, local authorities will begin to be required to pay for schemes to support low emission transport, including public charging points.

“One of the biggest cases of unsustainable transport is the transition to an electric car fleet in London,” said Simon Griffiths, CEO of the Zero Emission Vehicle Association (ZEVA).

“Rapid expansion of UK plug-in and electrified vehicle infrastructure – and London driving that change – will deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for Londoners and the UK.”

Mr Khan’s original commitment was to introduce the 50% target for zero carbon homes by 2020 and increase the number of zero carbon jobs to 40,000 by 2020.

He is also committed to making London the first city in the world to get all buses and taxis to be fully electric by 2040.

The Mayor also set targets for 50% of new homes to be zero carbon by 2026, and the majority of London’s office space will have to be zero carbon by 2030.

Fifty% of all new homes will be zero carbon by 2026

How does London stand on air pollution?

According to the independent watchdog the Local Government Association, almost all of the issues that the new mayor identified in his manifesto can be tackled by new, properly funded, low-carbon policies.

This includes action on air quality, parking restrictions, road pricing and better public transport.

All roads in London will by 2035 be fully segregated between buses, taxis and private cars, meaning drivers are not able to access roads by car even if they are on a journey that will take longer than three minutes.

The mayor’s annual flagship climate action plan – made up of a series of policy interventions that set targets for cuts in CO2 emissions – says that if all its proposed policies were acted upon, London could achieve a 42% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

He has also announced that 50,000 new homes will be built over the next five years that will be fully zero carbon.

From 1 September, transport operating companies will be required to offer residents and staff electric car charging points as standard or as part of their contracts.

In London, the electric car industry has been under intense competition as the government and Highways England scrap charging charges for drivers of electric vehicles.

On 5 April, Transport for London introduced lower fares for both London drivers of electric cars and vans.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A DC-8 electric car undergoing tests in London

Additional reporting by Rose Simmons, Sophie Cook and Natasha Karpitskaya

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