Mayor Sadiq Khan wants London to be a global leader in road pricing and tackle “social justice” issues at the same time. 

The mayor of London Sadiq Khan is considering charging motorists a small daily fee of up to £2 for polluting vehicles to alleviate air pollution and help meet the city’s ambitious emissions targets by 2030. 

According to a new report commissioned by City Hall, the UK capital must cut at least 27% of the city’s traffic in order to meet its net-zero emissions targets by the end of the decade. Based on this, Khan is proposing a road pricing scheme to encourage more Londoners towards public transport, cycling and walking – about one third of all car journeys in the city can be walked in less than 25 minutes while two-thirds can be cycled in less than 20, according to Transport for London (TfL) – and for drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles. 

The suggested road pricing would essentially charge drivers by distance travelled, time and location. However, as technology for the pay-per-mile system is unlikely to be ready soon, the mayor is mulling other options to make drivers pay for polluting before the end of his second term in office in May 2024.

This includes a daily charge for all petrol and diesel cars that travel throughout Greater London or expanding the existing (and already broadened) ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), which charges owners of pre-2005 petrol cars and pre-2015 diesel vehicles £12.50 a day. Non-London registered drivers could also be required to pay a fee. In the long run however, the road charging scheme would replace the zone and other congestion charges. 

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Khan says that London should be a global leader in introducing smart road pricing and that he was “not willing to stand by and wait when there’s more we can do in London that could 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,” Khan said. “But I’m not willing to put off action we have the ability to implement here in London.”

The mayor also added that air pollution and the climate crisis were issues of “social justice across the globe – and in London as well, it’s the poorest Londoners, the least likely to own a car, who suffer the consequences”. But motoring organisations have criticised the proposed schemes to be a punishment for those who are unable to afford an electric car and on people who rely on their vehicles to run businesses in the city. 

The road pricing scheme will open to public consultation where Londoners and businesses can propose changes or revisions, which will be implemented by May 2024.

Featured image by: Max Pixel