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Cars are displayed outside a Volvo showroom in west London Oct. 4, 2013. (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor) Cars are displayed outside a Volvo showroom in west London Oct. 4, 2013. (REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)  

London to ban older gas-powered cars from driving in the city center

Ever want to take a nice drive through London on a rare sunny day? You won’t be able to if you drive older gas-powered cars because city officials are set to ban them from driving through the city center — possibly impacting millions of drivers.

London is taking this step as part of a proposed “Ultra Low Emissions Zone” (ULEZ). Autocar reports that a second “stakeholder” city meeting is expected ban vehicles that don’t meet European Union emissions standards.

“We announced last February the intention to introduce an Ultra Low Emissions Zone in 2020 for central London and we have been working towards that goal since,” said Transport for London (TfL), the city center’s transportation authority. TfL said that no decision had yet been made on banning cars.

But Autocars reports that “the ban on pre-EU6 diesels — cars registered before 2014, and pre-EU4 petrols, as well as any registered before 2005 — was put to an informal vote at the first stakeholder meet in November and won overwhelming support.”

There are also worries that officials could ban older cars in outer London, the current boundary of the Low Emission Zone for trucks buses. This would ensnare millions of drivers who would be unable to comply with the emissions rules, forcing them to buy newer cars or forgo driving altogether.

Motorist groups are closely watching London’s efforts to limit the use of gas-powered vehicles, including the new 60 miles per hour speed limit on motorways.

But even TfL notes that “diesel-powered trucks, buses, vans and taxis” emit much more pollutants than individually than private vehicles. TfL says about “80 per cent of large particle pollution in central London comes from road transport and half of that comes from ‘non-exhaust sources,’ largely rubber and brake dust. … Of the remaining accountable small share cars generate 17 per cent, taxis 34 per cent, vans 26 per cent and trucks 11 per cent and buses 8 per cent.”

Autocar also notes that London already complies with European Union large particle pollution rules. Fuel efficiency rules have reduced tailpipe emissions tenfold, but environmentalists argue that fuel efficiency rules don’t do enough and have been pushing gas vehicle bans.

“EU diesel standards have not achieved anything for nitrogen dioxide because the test doesn’t reflect real world driving. My view is that we are with diesel where we were with smoking 30 years ago. Diesel is carcinogenic,” Simon Birkett of Clean Air in London told Autocar.

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