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London Mayor Calls for Changes to Congestion Charge to Reward Low-CO2 Emitters, Penalize High-CO2 Emitters

In 2007, London is almost doubling its congestion-charge area with the orange-shaded extension to the left. The original C-charge area is to the right. Click to enlarge.

London’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, has asked Transport for London (TfL) to produce proposals by September to amend the Congestion Charging scheme to discourage the use of cars producing high levels of carbon emissions, and to encourage drivers to switch to cars with low levels of CO2 emissions.

The changes would involve discounts for cars with low CO2 emissions and substantially higher charges for cars with high levels of CO2 emissions.

Livingstone had earlier indicated that he was in favor of higher charges for vehicles with high levels of CO2 emissions. (Earlier post.)

In 2003, the City of London implemented a congestion-charge program for the city center as one of the strategies designed to address the problems of traffic congestion and emissions. The program, which levied a flat-rate, all-day area charge of £5 (now £8) per day for drivers entering the zone between 7:00AM - 6:30PM, Monday-Friday, has proven effective. By the end of 2005, total traffic had been reduced by 15-18%, congestion was down 30%, and emissions of PM10 and NOx were down 12%.

The Mayor said he was hopeful that any new discounts could come into effect from 2008, with subsequent higher new charges for cars producing high levels of CO2 emissions to be delivered within two years of the introduction of the new discounts.

The proposals are to reflect three rate tiers:

  • Low CO2 cars would pay less than the current £8 (US$15) per day.

  • Most cars would continue driving in the zone at the present rate of £8 per day.

  • Those vehicles with very high CO2 emissions (such as those that produce more than 226g/km of CO2 emissions, would be charged at a higher rate, perhaps around £25 (US$46).

The Congestion Charge has been a huge success in reducing traffic levels and supporting the public transport system through the revenue raised and improvement to bus reliability. I now want Transport for London to bring forward plans to build on the success of congestion charging to encourage drivers in London to purchase a low emission vehicle. My aim is to see the cutting of carbon emissions and the protection of our environment at the heart of the scheme.

There is a growing sense of concern amongst Londoners about climate change caused by CO2 emissions, which is the biggest single problem facing humanity, and tackling this threat requires decisive action. “Chelsea tractors” [SUVs], many of which are responsible for some of the highest CO2 emissions of any cars on our roads, have to be dealt with.

This is a charter for greening our car choices and it will once again put London at the cutting edge of both environmental and transport policy.

—Mayor Ken Livingstone


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Surely this is all about raising money for the general coffers pot and nothing to do with pollution. Outside of the charging times / weekends you can drive any car /suv / van and cause as much pollution as you like without charge. People who go to work ie Mon to Fri get charged. People who enter for leisure / pleasure generally weekends and out of charge periods no charge.

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