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The picturesque city of London has recorded its 36th "bad air" day this year after monitoring equipment detected dangerous levels of minute airborne particles. EU guidelines allow just 35 "bad air" days, so reaching this unfortunate level by the sixth month of the year means that London is in violation of the law and faces stiff fines and numerous court cases. Also, London's air pollution is now considered to be the worst in all of Europe.

The city's government has asked the EU for an exemption from air quality guidelines until 2011 as it desperately tries to clean up its act in time for the 2012 Olympics, but the EU is none too pleased with London's lack of action to address air quality problems in the past. London has been in breach of air quality guidelines since 2005 and has yet to fully address the problems, and many critics have come down hard on the city's failures. London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford said:
This latest breach is yet another wake-up call for the mayor of London and the government. Research has shown that airborne pollution in London could be responsible for up to thousands of premature deaths a year: this is an invisible public health emergency.
European Commissioner Janez Potocnik remarked:
Air pollution is bad for our health. It reduces human life expectancy by more than eight months on average and by more than two years in the most polluted cities and regions.
London's days of nonconformity appear limited. Public sentiment is against any more extensions or exemptions and, with the Olympics rolling in just two years from now, it's time for the city to take action to clean up its act. Hat tip to Andy!

[Source: Guardian | Image: Iain Buchanan - C.C. License 2.0]


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  • 24 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      easy fix. like any gov in the world they should take matters into their own hands instead of waiting for the dastardly automakers. start a small car factory making ultra light ultra aerodynamic 4 seater sedans with battery electric drive and a tiny highway worthy cruise range extender combustion engine, say 2 cylinders.
      cut to the chase instead of the pathetic typical politician "solution" with regulation and incentives. just do it. would be a smashing success.

      the reason it would work is that it's a great untapped window of opportunity in the car industry. it's not about besting very large very dedicated car companies. it's the simple fact that they are reluctant to do the right thing for whatever reason. thus a window of easy opportunity.
      and don't give into lies that it's too late and they'll overtake you anyway. it's basically a law that they move really really slowly. just look at the 4 years since the EV revolution started. most of the car makers are not sure electrification will happen. they are that stupid

      I suggest being inspired by the 1992 GM Ultralite concept car, just with a plugin drivetrain instead. and normal doors. it's a very good starting point.
      some data here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_Ultralite
      and in action here as they used it in the Demolition Man movie with Stallone and Sandra Bullock http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZU369rpCYo

      just do it
      • 4 Years Ago
      I had no idea that London was that bad ... So it's basically Europe's Los Angeles.

      I'm beginning to understand the concept of counting grams of CO2 per kilometer, too bad they love Diesel out there because i can't begin to imagine the soot/particulate issues. Do they hand count the particles from Diesel cars too? ;)
      • 4 Years Ago
      London is WAY better than it used to be. When I first started visiting there regularly during the 1970s, you wouldn't dare (even in an emergency like the airline loosing your luggage) think that you might be able to get away with wearing a white shirt for more than one day - any exposed part of it would just be black with soot. It is SO MUCH better than that today!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Always wondered why houses are so expensive there: premature death LOL
      • 4 Years Ago
      Is there a typo in the title? ...'cause dat shit is hard to read. :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      How about just banning private cars in London? The city already has awesome public transportation.
        clipsinite
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wouldn't call it awesome. It's expensive (but so is owning a car). I would say Paris's public transit network is better because it is cheaper and better utilized. Paris's metro system has the highest ridership in the EU. London is second, but Greater London is also much larger in terms of population and geography than Paris plus its inner suburbs.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's disgusting. Why is London's air more polluted than say, Paris?

      As far as I know the vehicles on London's roads are more or less the same as in other places in Western Europe. Could it be emissions from buildings or factories?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just a pure guess but France is almost completely nuclear driven, maybe that helps with the difference?

        Also, maybe there are some topographical reasons that exacerbate the problem by retaining the bad air rather than expelling it, while other places do not have the same concerns?
        • 3 Years Ago
        More or less the same. Pollution levels stand and fall with the prevalence of diesel particulate filters, as only these abate the nasty PM10, particulates smaller than 10 microns that goes directly into your lung as the nose can't filter them. The UK deplorably lacks behind with making diesel particulate abatement equipment mandatory and more importantly, enforcing requirements to fit these filters. London taxis are terrible, as are some busses still although they should all have been fitted with particulate filters (I cycle through London every working day and can testify, they are not. Pretty much every day I see at least one billowing thick black fumes.) I just was in Paris and can say it's pretty choking along the main roads, in my perception even worse than London, but that's just a flavour; not sure if in Paris there's more petrol exhaust smell which is unpleasant but not as dangerous?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Apparently it's a mixture of both, but the taxi fleet and bus fleet are two of the worst.
        The fine is reported to be around £300million,which comes into force when the deadline reaches 2011. The proposed hybrid buses won't role out until 2012 which is a bit of a hammer blow to the 20,000 or so charging points that were going to be implemented by Boris. Budget cuts and the economy have dealt a blow to that idea. Also the met police fleets proposed e.v cars have been cut back
        • 4 Years Ago
        Paris?

        because BO is not considered a pollutant :)

        Its about time you guys stopped using coal fired steam engines. Are diesel particulate filters mandated in London?.. do you still see soot stains around the exhaust of diesel cars?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @David Martin Some of it is speculation but I wouldn't be surprised

        A few paragraphs down
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cif-green/2010/jun/26/boris-johnson-air-pollution
        • 4 Years Ago
        andysmithdesign:
        Have you any detail or links to the cutbacks? I haven't seen anything, although it does not surprise me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Taxi fleet and buses? Are you saying that Diesel Particulate Filers are not required there? That would be a disappointment.

          • 3 Years Ago
          With taxis it's complicated, but the upshot is that in London a big share of the fleet still drives around without any effective diesel particulate abatement equipment.
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is interesting because - despite what the article says - London is taking measures to stop this.

      Not only is there the congestion charge to deter people from driving into the central London zone (inclusive of very generous discounts for low-emission vehicles), but there is also a huge fee to drive a commercial vehicle into all of London (basically anything inside the M25 instead of just central London) which is called the Low Emission Zone. To drive a commercial vehicle over a certain size (anything larger than a transit van) that is not Euro III now and not Euro IV from Jan 2012 it is £200 ***per day*** compared to £8 for a car in London. That is a pretty huge incentive.

      Then there are the electric car charging spots, the bike hire scheme that is just about to launch, the hybrid buses due soon - basically there is lots going on.

      I'd have to question some of the existing buses and black cabs as someone else pointed out, but then buses are starting to be replaced with hybrids that is true.

      I do not know the specifics but I'd also wonder if there are geophysical reasons for the air quality too - if its been a "bad air" day a lot recently that might simply be due to the weather and the fact that its been really hit lately with not much wind.
        • 4 Years Ago
        apparently the high fees only deter a few people.. it just gets passed on as part of doing business in London.
        • 4 Years Ago
        £200 a day is a pretty fair chunk of change towards making electric delivery vehicles viable.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, I never knew London was that bad. They need to expand the C-Charge zone and get everybody on bikes :D
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am curious as to what Brits think about paying a fine to the EU. As for the pollution, short of banning private petrol/diesel cars in the city, I don't see how they reduce the pollution in any measurable way. They have tried congestion charges, road tax, parking is a bear, that would seem to be incentive enough.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I know, right? i can't think of a more anti-car place.
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