New data released today by the Department for Transport reveals private ownership of diesel cars in London fell by over 10% in 2022, down 57,103 from 560,043 in 2021.
This follows a record decline in 2021, when 105,626 (16%) fewer private diesel cars were registered in the Capital than the previous year. The total number of diesel cars in London has declined every year since 2018.
Today, a total 535,837 diesel cars remain on London’s roads, 94% of which are owned privately. The boroughs with the highest volume of diesel cars are Hillingdon and Bromley, with 34,758 and 29,792 total cars registered respectively.
Diesel vehicles cause a disproportionate amount of the city’s air pollution, accounting for up to 40% of total NOx emissions in 2019. This toxic air pollution is damaging the health of Londoners, causing lung conditions like COPD and worsening existing issues like asthma and cardiovascular disease.
This Clean Air Day, local campaigners have launched a new campaign calling for London to ditch diesel once and for all, to protect the next generation from its devastating health impacts.
While trends suggest consumers have been switching away from diesel in recent years, almost half of the diesel cars which remain on London’s roads were registered for the first time after the 2015 emissions scandal.
Jemima Hartshorn, Founder of Mums for Lungs said, “We know diesel cars are both toxic to our health and inefficient in large cities; there is no need to own a diesel car in London in 2023. The 2030 ban on diesel sales is still several years away, and we cannot sit by until then as new diesel cars are introduced to London’s roads that will ultimately stay on our roads for decades to come, inflaming our children’s lungs and intensifying lifelong health conditions like asthma.”
The campaign is calling for all governments – national government, the Greater London Assembly and London Boroughs – to signal their commitment to a diesel-free London by introducing policies that incentivise residents to choose less-polluting forms of transport. Some local authorities are already taking steps to phase out diesel cars; last month, Lambeth Council introduced a new parking surcharge that would apply to non-compliant diesel vehicles.
Oliver Lord, Head of Strategy and UK at the Clean Cities Campaign added, “We’ve known for years that diesel cars have been ruining lives and it’s encouraging that people are acting on this, but the bottom line is we won’t breathe freely while they are still on our roads.
“The scale of the challenge means we can’t ditch diesel overnight but let’s absolutely start planning now so that individuals and businesses have the certainty and time they need to act. We want a commitment from all levels of government that our lungs will be free of dirty diesel fumes by 2030, coupled with the support to make that happen.”
The campaign is also calling for UK Government to introduce supportive policies at the local and national levels. This includes providing support to individuals and small businesses to transition away from diesel, and incentives for industry to bring cleaner alternatives to market.
Jonathan Hudson, a cardiology registrar at Kingston University Hospital NHS Trust explains: “The health impacts of diesel on people’s health is undisputable, and we know that children are especially vulnerable. Research shows that it causes respiratory illnesses such as asthma and lung cancer, as well as contributing to high blood pressure and mental illness. Ditching diesel in London is a no brainer to improve everyone’s health and reduce the burden on our NHS.”
Across the UK, air pollution is estimated to cost the NHS over £20 billion and contribute up to 36,000 premature deaths each year.