Low-emission bus zones and real-time air quality updates are two ways London is cleaning up the capital's dangerous air quality.

The Challenge

London faces dangerous air pollution levels, despite being one of the first cities to introduce maximum air pollution levels following The Great Smog of 1952.

The Solution

Information and awareness campaigns can go a long way towards changing people's behaviors. London is rolling out real-time updates at bus stops and via road-side messages and digital alerts to inform citizens about poor air quality. When high and very high air pollution is forecast, 2,500 bus stops will display warnings about air quality, and alerts will be sent to app users as well as to the 700,000 followers of Mayor Sadiq Khan's Twitter account. London also created low-emission bus zones to prioritize the use of the cleanest, greenest buses where they are needed most. Measurements were carried out to identify the areas of highest exposure to dangerous nitrogen dioxide, and only top-of-the-range Euro VI buses or hybrid-electric buses can use the lanes. The first of these zones was completed in January 2017 and 11 more will be completed before 2020.

Environmental Benefits –  London aims to achieve a 70% reduction in bus NOx emissions via low-emission bus zones and changing transport habits with the air quality alerts, which will also help to tackle carbon emissions.

Social Benefits –  The low-emission bus zones have taken into account the proximity of schools to reduce children’s exposure to pollution.

Economic Benefits –  The total economic burden associated with London’s poor air quality is valued at around $4.8 billion. Improving air quality is expected to benefit high-street businesses as well as increase property values.

Health Benefits –  Long-term exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause more than 9,000 premature deaths every year in London. Low-emission bus zones and information updates are two ways in which the capital is trying to slash this figure.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 2017 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in five sectors: Energy, Waste, Adaptation, Mitigation and Transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments. You can access the full Cities100 2017 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Health
  • Social
Emissions Reduction
30% reduction in CO2 tailpipe emissions in central London by 2020
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