London Mayor eyes pay-per-mile charge to cut emissions

London Mayor eyes pay-per-mile charge to cut emissions
Proposals being drawn up to meet climate change targets in London could see drivers charged by the mile for using their car in the capital.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan wants a road pricing system to be introduced to encourage people who drive petrol or diesel cars to ditch them in favour of public transport, cycling, walking or electric vehicles ‘where necessary.’

He says he is ‘not willing to stand by and wait’ after research he commissioned found that a 27% reduction in London’s car traffic is needed by 2030 to meet net-zero goals.

A report by City Hall said road user charging would be a ‘simple and fair scheme’ that could replace existing fees such as the Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

However, the technology needed to charge motorists by the mile is still years away from being ready, so Mr Khan is considering several options that could be implemented sooner.

Potential policies that could be in place before the end of his second term in 2024 include expanding the ULEZ to cover the whole of London or charging a small fee for all but the cleanest vehicles.

Mr Khan is also considering charging drivers of vehicles registered outside London for entering the capital.

The Mayor, who will carry out a public consultation on the proposals with Transport for London (TfL), says there is more that can be done in London to make a ‘big difference’.

“We have too often seen measures to tackle air pollution and the climate emergency delayed around the world because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient, but I’m not willing to put off action we have the ability to implement here in London,” he stressed.

While steps to cut emissions have been broadly welcomed, motoring groups say policies should focus on the uptake of greener vehicles rather than punishing those who can’t afford them. 

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “These proposals would create massive financial challenges for individuals, families and businesses who run a car in London and even for those who visit the fringes of the capital.

“We all want to see cleaner air and cleaner vehicles on the road and it’s right the Mayor has ambitions to reduce emissions from road transport but these proposals could be beyond the means of many and will punish those who simply cannot afford an electric car. Our research suggests fewer than a third of drivers in London expect to switch to an electric vehicle within the next five years, and at the same time the Mayor himself cannot commit to a zero-emission TfL bus fleet until 2037.

“Worse still, proposals to charge vehicles outside of London to enter the boundary is likely to impact hardest on workers such as carers, tradespeople and night-time economy staff for whom there is no alternative to using a vehicle. At a time when the basic cost of living for Londoners is soaring, these proposals seem to be poorly timed, so we strongly urge the Mayor to think again instead of defaulting to extracting more money from the pockets of London’s drivers.”

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