The Mayor issued the warnings on Wednesday night (30 November) at 2,500 bus stops, all 270 Tube stations and road-sides across London to notify residents of “high pollution levels”.

The alerts use a three-day ahead forecast about air pollution levels. The service provides information and guidance such as advising people to walk, cycle or use public transport and encourage asthma sufferers and other vulnerable groups that they may need to increase usage of their reliever inhaler.

“Londoners need to know when the city is suffering from high pollution levels so they can take any necessary appropriate measures to protect themselves from poor air quality,” Khan said. “This is particularly crucial for Londoners who are vulnerable, such as asthma sufferers.”

‘World leader’

The introduction of air quality alerts reflects Sadiq Khan’s commitment to tackle London’s toxic air levels. Earlier this week, the Mayor unveiled a new hydrogen double-decker as he pledged to phase-out the purchase of new diesel buses from the capital.

The bus will be trialled on London’s roads next year, as part of the Mayor’s plan to have London buses meet the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) standard during 2020. London has committed to procuring roughly 300 zero-emission buses by 2020, with 51 battery electric buses recently going into service, taking the total number of zero-emission buses in the fleet to 79.

Khan is calling on other cities to follow London’s lead and work together to challenge bus manufacturers to produce more zero-emission buses and make cleaner bus technology cheaper.

Commenting on the proposals, Khan said: “I want London to become a world leader in hydrogen and electric bus technology. I’m implementing hard-hitting measures to clean-up London’s toxic air and it’s great that more cities are getting on board to phase out the procurement of pure diesel buses which sends a clear signal that only the cleanest technologies are wanted in our cities.”

Capital pledges

Four capital cities in the C40 Climate Change Leadership Group – Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens – have already responded to the call and agreed to remove diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025. The cities have pledged to incentivise alternative vehicles and promote walking and cycling infrastructure.

The announcements were made at the C40 Climate Change Summit in Mexico this week, attended by Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, who hopes to form partnerships with other cities to accelerate action on cleaning up emissions.

Responding to the news, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates said: “This bold move to get rid of diesels, which are the most polluting vehicles, is exactly what is needed in the UK to help clean up the illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution currently suffered by many of our cities, and which leads to 40,000 premature deaths a year.

“Sadiq Khan should follow suit and commit to phase out diesel vehicles from London by 2025. And, the Government must lead the way by funding strong Clean Air Zones in all our cities and major towns, as well as switching funding from roads to sustainable transport.

“We need cleaner vehicles, and fewer of them. Getting rid of diesel is essential and we must also give people genuine alternatives to driving.”

Khan has been directly involved in legal action alongside environmental law firm ClientEarth, which last month won its High Court case against the UK Government over the failure of ministers to tackle illegal air quality levels across the country.

edie podcast: Sadiq Khan and ClientEarth’s air quality crusade

London Mayor Sadiq Khan and ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton were the special guests on a recent edie podcast episode which investigates London’s ongoing air quality crisis, the Government’s green policy priorities, and the role of business in delivering a low-carbon economy.

George Ogleby

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