Political leaders from some of the largest cities in England and Wales will appeal to the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to bring forward the government’s commitment to end the sale of diesel and petrol-only cars.
Mayors and city leaders from Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Greater Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton and the West Midlands, will meet Mr Gove at a summit in the capital on Wednesday (20 June) to make the appeal.
Presently, the government has set a commitment to end the sale of conventional diesel and petrol-only cars by 2040. Greater detail on how ministers expect this to be achieved are expected to be fleshed out in the ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, which is due to be published in the coming weeks.
But, ahead of the strategy’s publication, city leaders will make a case for the government to bring forward its ambition by 10 years, moving the end date for the sale of petrol and diesel-only cars to 2030.
Mr Gove will hear representations from the city representatives at the national air quality summit organised jointly by the Mayor of London, UK100 and IPPR on Wednesday.
At the summit, the city leaders will also call for new air quality limits linked to World Health Organization recommendations, a targeted ‘renewal’ [scrappage] scheme to remove older, more polluting vehicles from the roads and greater funding for measures such as Clean Air Zones aimed at combatting air pollution.
Commenting ahead of the summit, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Air pollution is not an isolated problem, it’s a national health crisis. Our country’s filthy air is shortening lives, damaging lungs, and severely impacting on the NHS. That’s why we’re bringing together city leaders from across England and Wales to put this at the top of the agenda.
“We have to take bold action, but while we’re all doing what we can, we need government support to do even more. Banning the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, providing support to deliver Clean Air Zones in cities and introducing a national vehicle renewal scheme will dramatically improve our air quality and our health.
“Michael Gove has made a good start as Environment Secretary but we need the government to match our ambition and help us urgently drive forward these improvements. We simply cannot afford to delay.”
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, added: “We have all been too complacent about the public health crisis of people breathing in illegal, polluted air. It is damaging health and shortening lives, particularly in our poorest communities. Greater Manchester is ready to break out of that and show the ambition needed to clean up our air. But we can’t do it alone.
“We need to see the same level of ambition from the government in the form of substantial, up-front investment. With my fellow Mayors, I am calling on the government to fund a fair diesel scrappage scheme and end the sale of new pure diesel and petrol cars and vans ten years earlier than planned by 2030. We also need to see major investment in the public transport infrastructure of Northern England if people here are to have an alternative to the car. It is only radical action on this scale that will tackle this problem and save lives.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “City leaders of all political stripes are coming together to discuss air quality because this is a public health crisis that needs urgent action. We need to shift away from diesel as a matter of urgency and I will be an ally for decision-makers especially those in national government who seek to find a way to support ordinary people getting newer cleaner cars to replace their dirty old ones.
“This is also an industrial opportunity – not least for the West Midlands – where we have built cars trucks and taxis for generations. We need to move to making cleaner vehicles now. It is an essential part of the national industrial strategy.”