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London Increasing Daily Congestion Zone Fee to £25 (US$49) for High GHG-Emitting Vehicles

Completing a process he initiated in 2006 (earlier post), Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has confirmed that the city will levy a substantially larger daily charge for high greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles entering the city’s Congestion Zone: £25 (US$49). At the same time, the city will provide a 100% low CO2 discount for cars that produce less than 120g/km CO2 and meet the Euro 4 standard for air pollution emissions, or that produce no more than 120g/km of CO2 and appear on the PowerShift register.

To be implemented starting 27 October 2008, the changes are intended to encourage drivers within the charging zone to travel in vehicles that produce lower levels of carbon dioxide and to discourage the use of vehicles with high CO2 emissions.

Nobody needs to damage the environment by driving a gas guzzling Chelsea Tractor in central London. The CO2 emissions from the most high powered 4x4s and sports cars can be up to four times as great of those of the least polluting cars. The CO2 charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport and ensure that those who choose to carry on driving the most polluting vehicles help pay for the environmental damage they cause. This is the “polluter pays” principle. At the same time, the 100 per cent discount we are introducing for the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles will give drivers in London an incentive to use the least polluting cars available.

I believe that this ground breaking initiative will have an impact throughout the world with other cities following suit as they step up their efforts to halt the slide towards catastrophic climate change. I think this scheme will also start a cultural revolution whereby drivers in every city in Britain start to think about the impact on the environment of their choice of car and how they plan their journeys. We will be closely monitoring this scheme to ensure that goal of reducing traffic congestion in central London remains a central priority.

—The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone

The majority of cars (around 80%) within the Congestion Charging zone will not be affected by the changes and will continue to pay the £8 standard charge or be eligible to apply for another discount or exemption. The boundary of the Congestion Charging zone, and charging hours, 7:00am to 6:00pm Monday-Friday excluding bank holidays, remain the same.

Vehicles that will be assessed the increased £25 daily charge under the modified plan include:

  • Cars first registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) on or after 1 March 2001 that produce above 225g/km of CO2.

  • Cars first registered with the DVLA before 1 March 2001 with engines greater than 3,000cc displacement.

  • Pickups with two rows of seats (extended-cab dual-purpose pickups) with CO2 emissions of greater than 225g/km or with engines greater than 3,000cc in size.

The high-emitting vehicles are essentially those in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) band G, while the vehicles qualifying for the 100% discount are in bands A and B. Bands C, D, E and F will continue to pay the original £8 fee.

Other changes implemented by the Mayor of London’s Variation and Transitional Provisions Order 2007 include:

  • The removal of the 90% Residents’ Discount from the Congestion Charge for residents who continue to drive cars liable for the CO2 charge.

  • The closure of the 100% Alternative Fuel Discount (AFD) to new registrations, and the phasing out of the AFD by January 2010.

  • A change to the NHS reimbursement scheme. The city will only reimburse patients travelling in those cars that are liable for the higher charge a maximum of £8, not the full £25.

  • The introduction of the Euro V incentive—a time-limited reduced Congestion Charge of £6 for trucks and heavier vans that meet the Euro V standard for air pollution emissions.

Transport for London’s analysis concludes that by 2010, CO2 emissions will be reduced by an additional 500 to 7,500 tonnes per year under the new charging scheme.

...whilst the direct measurable impact of the emissions related congestion charging proposals could be small, the scheme could achieve wider long term impacts, for example: changing car purchasing behaviour in favour of lower CO2 vehicles; raising awareness of the impact of individual car choice on the environment and incentivising manufacturers to produce lower carbon vehicles. These proposals must also be seen in the context of other initiatives at international and local levels aimed at changing behaviour. Accordingly, these proposals could result in larger long-term net improvements in the energy efficiency of the UK vehicle fleet, and, larger net reductions in CO2 emissions as a result of behavioral changes.

—Transport for London

(A hat-tip to Jamie!)

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Comments

mahonj

This won't help congestion in London.
The place will fill up with small cars.
There are quite a few cars <= 120gm/km around now, so there will be plenty of choice.
It will have minuscule effect on global CO2.

It will, however, annoy SUV drivers and Daily Telegraph voters - which probably means it will achieve its aims.

sola

@mahonj:
The scheme can always be made stricter. When the place is full of <120g cars and no more SUVs (in a couple of years) you can say 100g or 120g&hybridized.

When I spent a weekend holiday in London, it was quite a nice feeling that my Prius was exempt from the charges. (not to mention the feeling at the pump at those brutal gas prices in the UK)

John Taylor

This is a very good beginning to the phase out of guzzlers and the acceptance of less polluting cars for city driving. The Zap battery electric plug in car is exempt so people are buying them, and soon better PEV alternatives will become available.

Clean air in cities can and should be achieved.

DavidJ

The charges should address the special needs of London: congestion and clean air, hence the discount for Euro V compatibility makes sense. But it seems the wrong tool for the job of reducing CO2.

Alex

This is significant. Many people in the US don't realize that over 1000 pure EVs have been sold in London in the past three years, despite a total lack of models (basically only the Reva aka G-Wiz), high vehicle costs, practically no public/utility investments in charging infrastructures, and NO tax credits or ANY form of subsidy from the central government. The advantage of buying them is that you are exempted from the congestion charge and also get free parking in some areas. Apparently this is enough to compensate for the high costs and minimalist performance of the lead-acid powered Reva. So London government and councils (Westminster, etc.) have really helped EVs in London. Now there are more companies (Nice, Think!) planning to enter the market, and EDF is said to be planning some kind of infrastructure.
Imagine what will happen when there are cool models such as the Think and Tesla, infrastructures, and why not a tax credit. The market will really start to grow.
This is where it's going to happen... London, Paris, Tokyo.

DavidJ

I'm surprised that there isn't larger support for BEV. Developing the local BEV industry as well as the market should be a wise investment for the future on both environmental and economic grounds.

Mungai

It is just another excuse for a socialist government to increase tax revenues. The claim of the "poluter pays" only makes sense when the money collected is actually used to correct the supposed damage caused. For example Coal companies in the US pay a fee to help with clean up old mine sites. The mayor specifically says the tax will cause high polluting vehicles to "help pay for teh environmental damage the cause." The problem is the tax collected is not going for environmental remediation, it just ends up in the general government coffers. If the desired result is to decrease pollution or create another stream of tax revenues in London then say so but don't hide behind the environmental flag. He goes on to state that it will encourage people to drive lower polluting autos or take public transport. It is much more effective to tax at the sale to encourage a change in purchasing behavior. As for public transport, they had to leavy a fee on driving because the cost of the public transport is becoming cost prohibitive. One can easily spend 20 - 30 Pound a day commuting into and out of London. If you want people to use public transport subsidize the costs and lower the price.

Further, if he was truly interested in air pollution instead of raising tax revenues then he would limit, restrict or entirely prohibit auto traffic in broad swaths of central London with the exception of Public transportation and electric vehicles. Then you don't need a tax it is a simple do or don't choice.

DavidJ

Mungai:
You could say that he is using the higher tariff on group G vehicles to subsidise the group A and B vehicles (including BEV) so they are doing what you suggest, but in a less draconian fashion.

Anne

I see cross contamination of concerns.

Congestion charge should be a local solution for a local problem. CO2 emissions are not local problems. congestion/road safety/particle emissions/noise are the local problems that the congestion charge should address. There is no justification for a Londoner to pay more CO2 tax over someone living on the countryside.

Alas, I see a mayor that wants to be part of the 'grand scheme of things' and be remembered as a global warming buster.

Anne

By the way, did someone do the math?

If someone drives into and out of London in a CO2 belching monster paying £ 17 extra taxes over a regular car, then the tax he effectively pays over these CO2 emissions are in the region of two pounds per kg CO2. Ludicrous.

We don't need this kind clownish behaviour if we want to convince anyone that it is a smart idea to limit CO2 emissions. This will undermine support for actual measures that DO make a difference.

Karl-Uwe

I can't believe what I'm reading.

What the Mayor of London has done is absolutely wonderful. Indeed what has been done so far in London, Stockholm and Milan is wonderful. In all three cities finally idiots with their silly tractors are starting to pay for their stupidity.

The effect the congestion charge has had so far is a very strong one, in terms of both smog and congestion, and is well documented:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_congestion_charge
This is also true for Stockholm. The measures in Milan are not as strong (the idiots don't get quite a beating) but the measured effect on contaminants in just one month has been quite extreme. So much so that other cities, namely Genoa and Turin are studying the system and are considering to adopt it as well.

Sure CO2 is different from the list of contaminants that the car emits. However if I take my little car magazine out and have a look at the figures for any car at all, I notice that cars with high CO2 figures are the same ones with very high contaminant emissions. Addressing CO2 is probably the simplest way to go about it. It is also a way of saying "I definitely want to see fewer tractors in my city" (where they also cause the most safety concerns and congestion concerns). The UK has a legal obligation (just as all the EU does) to reduce its CO2 output levels and I'd say the largest city in the UK is a wonderful place to start.....

London, Stockholm and Milan now use CO2 limits in their cities but recall that pretty much all countries in the EU (except Germany) are taxing (or taxing/rebating) new cars based on their CO2 levels. In particular France and Spain started to heavily tax tractors and SUV sales in January 2008 fell by about 60% last month (while the German car sales fell between 25% and 40% compared with January 2007). Ireland have also decided to heavily tax SUVs but I haven't seen the Janaury sales data yet.

Kabir

To mahonj

Being stuck in the traffic jam should not be the privilege of the rich. Little guys should have their fair share of it. Personally, I prefer to the place to be filled up with even smaller vehicles -- bicycles.

Tom Street

Many of us us, while we may think in terms of the big global picture, act locally to do our part, however small, to improve the big picture.

Of course, no city, even as large as London, can solve our problems at the local level. But we must start somewhere. The Mayor is not only addressing a local problem but is trying to set an example for other cities, like New York. New York is pushing congestion charges in part because of the London experience.

While I personally would just like to see these tractors/SUVs just simply banned from the city, this is a start to motivate people to get smaller cars. If most people get smaller cars that in the future increase congestion with a plethora of those cars, then further steps can be taken to deal with the congestion issue. In the mean time, there will be improvements in all forms of emissions since CO2 goes hand in hand with other contaminants.

Given some of the attitudes here, I sometimes wonder if this site should be called green car congress. Perhaps it should be called Green Car Hating Congress.

Yes indeed, the Mayor may want to be remembered as a global warming buster. More power to him.

andrichrose

good on you Ken , the less SUV´s and their inhabitants on the road
all the better !

Anne

Let me clarify my point of view.

I am as opposed to tractors in the city or perhaps even more than most of you. I hate them. Period.

But I can not escape the feeling that this CO2-angle is there just because it is fashionable to do so.

Let the tractor drivers pay through higher sales tax. Then it affects every tractor in Britain, not just the ones living in London.

Actually the perfect CO2 tax is simply taxing the gasoline. That way it is fair to everybody. Someone driving a Prius 60.000 km/year pollutes more than someone driving a tractor 5.000 km/year and then rightfully pays more carbon tax. There is no justification in this (extreme) case for the tractor drive to pay more carbon tax, while he pollutes less.

Taxing pollution is good, but go against what is perceived as reasonable and you loose public support. That's why I strongly oppost this taxing scheme.

andrichrose

Anne ,
I really think you are missing the point, contaminants are at
their most dangerous in the city where they remain trapped in the
streets and are breathed in by the inhabitants of the place , anything
that can be done to increase the overall quality of the air that people
breathe is a step in the right direction !

Anne

andrichrose,

I agree with you.

But you are also missing my point. Read my first post:

Congestion charge should be a local solution for a local problem. CO2 emissions are not local problems. congestion/road safety/particle emissions/noise are the local problems that the congestion charge should address.

The CO2 emitted by these vehicles is not a local health threat. CO2 is a global problem. For the Londoners the vehicles not entering the city are just as bad in this respect as the vehicles that do enter the city.

Scatter

Mungai, all profit from the congestion charge must, by law, be invested in public transport infrastructure so I'm afraid you're wrong on that count.

Anne, London has very strong targets for reducing CO2 emissions within its borders and driving Londoners towards lower emission cars will assist in that. But there is the additional benefit that these lower emission cars will be used outside of London. Also when the owners come to sell them, they will be passed on to other users for the rest of their useful life. Surely it's far better for lower emission cars to enter the second hand market than high emission cars. This will have a very powerful effect on the new and second hand car market in the UK and in my view that should be welcomed.

That tractor driver could be driving his 5000 km in a very efficient car rather than a tractor but there is no incentive to do that through fuel tax alone.

stop complaining, when my GL costs 65,000 pounds what the heck is 25 pounds a day... nothing, not even a dent in my wallet... same goes for anyone driving a 350Z, M5 or XK... pennies... quit whining

Scatter,

I applaud the CO2 targets of London, but if this is the consequence, then for me that if one more proof that the end doesn't justify the means. I am not trying to defend tractors, but am afraid that the results are not worth the negative consequences. The negative consequences in this case being loosing public support.

The 60.000 Prius driver could also move to live closer to his job.

In the end it's all about personal choices. Some people choose a life full of mobility, others prefer luxury, a big car or perhaps a classic car. In the end pollution is pollution and it doesn't matter where it comes from. We have to be careful of demonizing certain choices, just because we have different preferences.

You are right that the fuel tax alone might be not enough for the tractor driver to choose a smaller vehicle. But don't forget he can spend his money only once, and will be forced to give up another polluting habit. Once again: it's all about choices.

Anne

That last comment was mine

Stan Peterson

"Red Kenny" is out to make a buck for him and his buddies to spend. First of all he will tax the lorries that bring food, fiber and goods into the City, and then tax the lorries that haul waste and junk out of the City. He won't use a dime to alter what must be done, in any case.

Since these transports are by and large necessary, and can't be done away with, they will simply pass on the higher tax cost to their retail customers, including the stupid oaf who thinks that everyone ought to ride bikes or subways about and don't need autos at all. He really thinks that his new bicycle just magically appeared at the store where he purchased it in center city.

Or the repair parts for the subway train he rides about on and derides everyone else for driving cars just magically appear.

After the concept is established, than "Red Kenny" can spread the tax for him and his buddies, to smaller and smaller vehicles, eventually taxing everyone, including roller skates. But not spending a dime on alternatives, merely lining his pockets with money to to watch over and spend, of course.

"Red Kenny" like most politicians, is a total parasite, consuming lots of money and producing very little, except self aggrandizement.

Rafael Seidl

@ Stan -

it would help if you actually looked at the proposal in detail before going off on one of your infamous talk radio benders.

a) The congestion charge is only levied Mo-Fr between 07:00 and 18:00 and only in the center of London. Commercial vehicles making deliveries outside of these hours are not subject to the charge, which can be as high as GBP 200 a day for this vehicle category. Ergo, expect commercial vehicle operators and their customers to adapt their schedules. Municipal services such as garbage collection are anyhow exempt.

b) While the charge will be increased to a very steep GBP 25 a day for the worst CO2 emitters (road tax band G) and 4x4 vehicles, it will be dropped entirely for cars that emit no more than 120gCO2/km (road tax bands A & B). There is no evidence that Red Ken will extend the tax to ever smaller vehicles, eventually including rollerskates. On the contrary, he has also announced a GBP 1 billion plan to improve the city's infrastructure for cyclists.

c) If you're going to accuse a politician of "lining his pockets", i.e. criminal behavior, you had better offer some proof.

This is not just an SUV tax, it is also a tax on even modest cars with a small engine displacemnt that many people with families need.

My VW Passat would escape the £25 fee, only because it is a manual transmission. With an auto box the CO2 emissions creep just over the limit, so there you have it an extra £17 for a car that emits just a few more grams of CO2, or in English a car that averages 30 miles per gallon. Not exaxtly what I would call gas guzzling but nonetheless classed as so by politicians to extract more money from motorists who are already paying through the nose in other taxes.

It doesn't stop there though. Some councils are also charging disporportionately higher fees for resident's parking permits because their vehicles happen to get an average mileage 30mpg or less. Yes paying a tax to park instead of using a car - mad!

These are fantastic examples of how obsessed our government has become with emissions, by classing vehicles which are relatively still efficient as gas guzzlers. Go to the states and junp in a Ford F-150 then you'll know what a gas guzzler is, not a simple family car.

Tom Street

Regarding the last comment. I doubt if you seriously accept the premise that we must find a way to cut back on oil consumption and cut greenhouses gases. A Prius is a simple family car, too. So, get used to it.

While these measures may seem draconian and unfair to you, they are not near enough. The goal really needs to be that we virtually eliminate motorized personal vehicles from the city, not just the city center.

If you want something that is really unfair, consider how unfair we are being to future generations, if any.

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