Air quality and climate change

Full details of our environmental objectives are set out in our latest Health, Safety and Environment Report.

Mayor's Clean Air Action Plan

Every year, around 9,400 deaths in London are attributed to illnesses related to air quality. The latest research available shows that more than 440 schools in the capital are in areas that exceed safe legal pollution levels.

As part of his Clean Air Action Plan, the Mayor is asking Londoners for their views. Key proposals include:

  • Introducing a £10 Emissions Surcharge (dubbed the 'T-charge') on the most polluting vehicles entering central London from 2017. The charge would apply to all vehicles with pre-Euro 4 emission standards (broadly speaking those registered in or before 2005) and will cost an extra £10 a day on top of the existing Congestion Charge
  • Introducing the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) one year earlier in 2019
  • Extending the ULEZ beyond central London from 2020 for motorcycles, cars and vans, up to the North and South Circular; and for lorries, buses and coaches London-wide
  • Developing a detailed proposal for a national diesel scrappage scheme for Government to implement
  • Bringing forward the requirement for all double-decker buses to be ULEZ-compliant in central London from 2020 to 2019

To support the ULEZ, all double-decker buses operating in the Congestion Charging zone will be hybrid electric vehicles and all single-decker buses in the zone will emit nothing from their engine exhaust (they will be full electric or hydrogen models).

The Mayor has asked us to introduce further improvements to reduce emissions from buses. This includes:

  • Ensuring all of our buses in central London are compliant with the ULEZ Euro VI emission standard ahead of its introduction (by 2019) and a commitment that our double-decker buses operating in the area will be hybrid
  • Implementing up to 12 Low Emission Bus Zones across London - tackling the worst pollution hotspots by concentrating cleaner buses on the dirtiest routes. The first zones will be delivered in Putney High Street and Brixton/Streatham from 2017
  • Expanding an innovative Euro VI bus retrofit programme to 3,000 vehicles by 2020 (up from 800) and to more than 5,000 by 2021
  • An aim to purchase only hybrid or zero emission double-decker buses from 2018

Have your say on the Mayor's Clean Air Action Plan.

Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Delivery Plan

Our Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Delivery Plan, launched in July 2015, sets out our vision for ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs) to be the preferred option in London for public transport, fleets and private vehicle owners.

It provides an action plan to address the specific issues and challenges currently limiting ULEV uptake in London. We will continue to build our relationships with our partners and stakeholders to make London the ULEV capital of Europe.

Transport Emissions Roadmap

Our Transport Emissions Roadmap published in 2014 looks at how to reduce emissions from transport in London. It reports on what we have already done and what we may do in the future. It provides a range of possible new measures that the Mayor, TfL, the London boroughs, the Government, EU and other  parties should consider to help meet the challenge of reducing air pollutants and CO2 emissions in London.

Tackling climate change

Predictions suggest London's transport systems will need to operate through warmer, wetter winters and hotter, drier summers, with increased incidences of storms and flooding.

Tackling climate change and enhancing the environment is very important to us, and we have a responsibility to operate a low-carbon network that is also resilient to any changes to the climate.

We support the target to reduce the Capital's CO2 emissions by 60% (against 1990 levels) by 2025.

By then, the city's population is expected to have risen by one million and it is vital we provide the services London needs to support growth while minimising emissions and damage to the local environment. Our initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from transport include:

  • Smarter Travel: Travel planning advice and tools for businesses, schools and residents to help them adopt safer, healthier and more sustainable transport options
  • Encouraging cycling and walking: Improving the urban environment, developing a range of walking routes and using more of the Legible London signs to help people easily find their way around the Capital
  • Deliveries in London: We work with operators, boroughs and partners across the freight industry to ensure that goods and services get delivered in London on time, and in a safe, clean and efficient way. Find out how we're helping on the Deliveries in London pages
  • Cleaner buses: We are fitting diesel particulate filters, selective catalytic reduction and ensuring that our new vehicles have hybrid engines and the latest engine standards to reduce their emissions
  • Regenerative braking: As part of our ongoing Tube improvement we are upgrading lines and increasing passenger capacity. Energy-saving measures include regenerative braking on trains, which saves up to 25% of electricity used
  • Source London: Launched in 2011, the city-wide electric vehicle charging network has 1,300 charge points across the Capital
  • Greener offices: Our Re:fit programme is improving the efficiency of metering, lighting and heating systems in head offices and operational buildings
  • Encouraging staff to take to two wheels. We offer Cycle2work, a tax-efficient scheme that allows staff to buy a bike and associated safety equipment free of tax and National Insurance contributions

Making London's air cleaner

Air quality: reducing NOx and PM10 emissions

We have set a target to achieve a 40% reduction in total NOx emissions and 50% in total PM10 emissions by 2017/18 against 2005/06 levels.

The target applies to all our public transport services, including taxis and private hire vehicles. The Low Emission Zone, introduced in 2008, covers most of central London. To drive in it without paying a daily charge, vehicles must meet certain emissions standards that limit pollution coming from their exhausts. Emission standards for the zone were tightened in 2012

The majority of our nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions come from buses. We have made it a priority to replace older, less efficient vehicles with some of the most environmentally friendly buses in the world.

We can also influence taxi and private hire vehicle emissions through licensing arrangements (which state limits on Euro standards and vehicle age).

The Mayor's Air Quality Strategy was published by the Greater London Authority in late 2010. It highlighted that the vast majority of London already meets the European Union (EU) limit value for annual mean atmospheric particulates (PM10) concentrations.

However, it also identified a small number of locations in central London that risk exceeding the limit.

As a result, and to complement London-wide measures already being taken to improve air quality, the Mayor committed to applying targeted local measures to help the Capital meet EU targets.

In March 2011, the DfT awarded us £5m to develop and deliver a package of local measures focused on reducing PM10 pollution at priority locations and other identified PM10 hotspots.

This led to the creation of the Clean Air Fund programme. Achievements include:

  • More than 100 buses fitted with diesel particulate filters
  • An awareness raising and education campaign in 2012 to discourage unnecessary engine idling
  • Deployment of five taxi marshals in central London to improve management of the ranks, discourage unnecessary engine idling and promote smarter driving courses
  • A trial of two green walls outside Edgware Road Tube station and the Mermaid Theatre on Upper Thames Street
  • Planting hundreds of new trees and shrubs at identified PM10 hotspots
  • A trial application of dust suppressants at known hotspots along six road corridors (Victoria Embankment/Upper Thames Street, Marylebone Road/Euston Road, Park Lane, A2, Earls Court Road and Blackwall Tunnel approaches) and at two construction sites and five industrial waste sites
  • Engagement with more than 300 businesses in priority locations focusing on reducing their travel and deliveries

Air quality on the Underground

The movement of trains over the rails, engineering works and customer use all contribute dust to the Tube network.

We know that almost all of the dust in the London Underground system is iron. Our monitoring has also shown that the composition of the dust does not contain components at levels which are likely to pose a risk to health of our passengers or employees.

Find out how we manage the dust levels by regular cleaning of Tube stations and tunnels in our air quality on the Underground report.


In January 2016 we launched LoCITY to improve air quality by lowering London's commercial vehicle emissions. LoCITY is helping fleets prepare for the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone and works with the industry to accelerate uptake of alternatively-fuelled commercial vehicles.

We are helping central and local government, vehicle manufacturers, trade associations and fleet operators come together to achieve these objectives. Find out more about the scheme on the LoCITY website.


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