Action needed to halt London’s silent killer

ULEZBoris Johnson today confirmed he will not accelerate the introduction of an Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London or take any further steps to improve London’s air quality. In his weekly Telegraph column the Mayor accepted that the capital’s air quality is bad and kills 4,300 people each year, but failed to speed up the delivery of the ULEZ which will improve air quality. London Assembly Labour Group Environment spokesperson, Murad Qureshi AM, has again urged the Mayor to bring forward both the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and the retrofitting of London’s 8,000 buses to make them less polluting.

Last week the Mayor indicated the smog episode wasn’t as bad as people had claimed, telling ITV London “I’m urging people just to have a little balance here, I cycled this morning and it seemed perfectly fine to me”. Under current plans the Mayor’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will not be introduced until after he has left City Hall. The Mayor also prioritised purchasing a few hundred of his new ‘RouteMaster’ buses, rather than retrofitting the entire fleet. 

Murad Qureshi AM, London Assembly Labour Group Environment spokesperson, said:

“Today the Mayor admitted that London’s air quality is bad and kills over 4,000 people each year, however he is unwilling to bring forward measures which will help stop this killer. His Ultra Low Emission Zone will be introduced four years after he has left office, and his pledge to make taxi’s zero-emission ‘capable’ won’t happen until two years after he has left us.

“His unwillingness to tackle this problem is short-sighted and condemns Londoners to another six years of dangerous air. London’s poor air quality kills 4,300 people each year, but it also stunts the development of children’s lungs – a condition that each child affected will be forced to live with the rest of their life. Boris’ complacency is disgraceful, he must bring forward the measures to fight this silent killer.”


The Mayor’s own Air Quality Strategy states that buses contribute significantly to pollution in London. During this year’s City Hall budget setting process, the Mayor was presented with a fully costed plan to establish a £25m fund to make London’s entire bus fleet less polluting and meet the Euro VI standard. This programme would have seen the fleet retrofitted by December 2015, however, the Mayor rejected this plan. By the time his Ultra Low Emission Zone is introduced in 2020, approximately 51,000 Londoners would have died as a result of air pollution since he was elected in 2008.



  1. Murad Qureshi is a Labour member of the London Assembly.
  2. The Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy says: “Across Greater London, buses are estimated to contribute 21 per cent of road transport emissions in 2008, and just under 30 per cent in 2015. However, when looking at road transport emissions within central London, buses become the most significant source of NOx emissions at around 40 per cent in 2008, growing to just below 50 per cent in 2015.” (The Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy p.44)
  3. In November 2013, the Department for Health published the Public Health Indicator for the fraction of mortality attributable to human-made dangerous airborne particles PM2.5 in 2011. The research which was publicised by the Clean Air in London Campaign noted that PM2.5 killed more people in 15 London boroughs in 2011 than 2010 and far more than 10 times the number dying from road traffic accidents Latest National and Local Death Rates for Air Pollution.

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