London announces $12/day toxicity charge for polluting cars

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London has introduced a $12.43 daily charge for polluting cars on Friday. Starting October 23, cars, vans, minibusses, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles in the central city will need to meet minimum exhaust emission standards, or pay a daily £10 ($12.43) emissions surcharge, also known as the ‘toxicity charge’.

The toxicity charge is aimed at the oldest, most polluting vehicles on London roads. According to authorities, the toxicity charge is “the toughest emission standard of any world city,” CNBC reported.

The charge is expected to apply to as many as 10,000 of the oldest and most polluting vehicles that use central London’s roads every weekday. It will apply to cars that do not meet Euro 4 standards. Most of those are diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006, according to the publication.

The toxicity charge will operate in addition to the Congestion Charge which runs from Monday to Friday, 7am-6pm, costing £21.50 to drive in the congestion zone.

“It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems… Londoners overwhelmingly supported my plans to introduce this £10 charge…I will continue to do everything in my power to help protect the health of Londoners and clean our filthy air,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.

According to Transport for London, 9+ seater vehicles that are currently registered for a discount or are exempt from paying the charge will need to meet the required emissions standards or pay the emissions surcharge. Taxis and private hire vehicles that are not actively licensed with the authority have to pay both the Congestion Charge and also the emissions surcharge if they do not meet the required emission standards.

In London, air pollution is a public health crisis and the mayor has taken hard-hitting action to tackle it head on. Currently, more than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution. Also, 438 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.

“If you do not pay the daily charge, a Penalty Charge Notice will be issued payable by the registered keeper or operator. This will be £130 (reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days),” according to the city’s transport authority.

Motorcycles, mopeds, and scooters do not need to pay the emissions surcharge. They already are exempt from the congestion charge.

Also, exempt from the emissions surcharge are vehicles with a historic tax class (40 years and older) and/or commercial vehicles manufactured before 1973. However, those vehicles continue to be subject to the congestion charge.

Photo Credit: Greater London Authority

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