The Mayor of London is facing calls from environmentalists to do more to improve air quality in the capital after a study rated it among Europe’s unhealthiest major cities.
London received an ‘F’ grade for its efforts to make air cleaner and was ranked “below average” by the German BUND e.V. and European Environmental Bureau study.
The 2012 Olympic Games host city was criticised for taking “backward steps” to tackle air pollution since 2005 by the German consumer and environmental groups.
Rising public transport fares and scaled down plans for hybrid buses were among the causes for concern raised by the study, although London was praised for tightening its low emission zone for heavy goods vehicles and promoting cycling and walking.
“Boris Johnson promised to make London the greenest capital city – he must do more to encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport, and abandon plans to build new Thames crossings for vehicles”
-James Grugeon, chief executive of Environmental Protection UK
The report said: “Overall, the mayor seems to have crippled the potential of existing measures to improve London’s air quality and he and the government have failed to take the action needed to address the worst public health crisis since the Great Smog of 1952.”
The study looked at the efforts made by 17 European cities to improve air quality and took traffic management, the shift to sustainable public transport and seven other factors into account.
London was ranked below Glasgow, Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich in the study. Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm can feel pleased with their efforts after performing the best of the cities, while Milan, Rome and Dusseldorf were the lowest ranked locations.
Environmental Protection UK chief executive James Grugeon said: “This independent Europe-wide study of action to tackle air pollution is an international embarrassment for London, the Government and the mayor.
“With less than a year until the Olympic Games, London is doing less to deal with its dangerous air pollution levels than other major European capital cities… Berlin and Paris have cleaned up their act, helping protect their citizens from the devastating health impacts of air pollution,” he said. “The Healthy Air Campaign is calling on the mayor and government to take urgent action to do the same in London.”
Grugeon’s call for more to be done to improve air quality in the capital was echoed by Friends of the Earth’s London campaigner Jenny Bates.
She said: “Boris Johnson promised to make London the greenest capital city – he must do more to encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport, and abandon plans to build new Thames crossings for vehicles.”