Go Diesel-Free to Protect Children, London Told

In 2021, a campaign group composed of parents revealed that air pollution levels in 15 areas throughout London were at illegal levels. The group specifically recorded nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels. Toxic air has been a major dilemma in the UK for years, even after the COVID-19 pandemic caused lesser road traffic. 

The parent-activists support the Mayor of London’s ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emissions Zone) expansion, which was scheduled last October 25, 2021. Mayor Sadiq Khan expanded the zone to London’s suburbs. Aside from supporting Sadiq’s ULEZ expansion, the group also encouraged officials, the government, and residents to aim for a diesel-free London if their goal is to keep children safe from toxic air. 

Since London and the UK are aiming for greener vehicles to replace fossil fuel-powered ones, there is also a clamour for additional financial assistance to drivers or car owners who are planning to switch to the more environmentally-friendly road transport alternative. Drivers will be asked to pay a levy worth £12.50 per day if they fail to switch to greener options. 

Pollution readings

The area with the highest toxic air levels is Brixton Road, Lambeth with a 60mg/m3 reading. Putney High Street is second with 58mg/m3, followed by the 51mg/m3 reading of Hanger Lane. All three are way over the legal level, which is set at 40mg/m3.

Five of the sites are located in outer London and the new boundary’s outer edge, including Morden and Kingston, Crooked Billet in Waltham Forest, and Ikea at Brent. Eight of the sites are included in the widened zone and two are inside the ULEZ – Strand and Walbrook Wharf. Nine of the areas are located adjacent to or on London’s major roads, specifically the Red Routes. 

The EDF Europe or Environmental Defense Fund Europe collected the pollution readings from toxic air monitors spread across London. 

Cars, vans, heavy goods vehicles, taxis, and other diesel-powered vehicles are primary sources of NO2 pollution in the sites mentioned above. This is something that authorities need to address. EDF Europe’s senior air quality manager Elizabeth Fonseca believes that London still has a long way to go in terms of lowering air pollution and improving air quality. If these issues aren’t efficiently addressed, everyone, especially the children, will keep breathing in polluted air.

The Dieselgate scandal

Diesel vehicles used to be the popular choice among car owners, but things changed when authorities started revealing their negative impacts on the environment. More changes happened after the Dieselgate scandal broke, as it was revealed that diesel has adverse effects on both the environment and on a person’s health. 

The diesel emissions scandal that happened in September 2015 saw the Volkswagen Group answer to US authorities for allegations that they installed defeat devices in Audi and VW diesel vehicles that were sold in the American market. The devices are used to manipulate emissions during regulatory testing. The California Air Resources Board ordered the carmaker to recall the thousands of defeat device-equipped vehicles across the US. VW has spent billions in payoffs (i.e., fees, fines, and compensation).

Other carmakers have also been accused of using defeat devices, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Renault, and British manufacturer Vauxhall. Like VW, they have recalled affected vehicles and paid off fees, fines, and compensation.

A defeat device can detect when the vehicle is in the lab for regulatory testing. Once it does, it reduces emission levels to within the limits mandated by the World Health Organization (WHO). Regulators will see a vehicle that’s emissions-safe but in reality, it’s a pollutant. 

When a defeat device-equipped vehicle is driven outside testing centres, it emits unlawful levels of nitrogen oxide or NOx. Nitrogen oxide is a highly reactive gas that produces pollutants such as ground-level ozone, acid rain, and smog. It can damage the environment and destroy lives. 

Exposure to NOx emissions can lead to serious health conditions, including:

  • Asthma
  • Respiratory illnesses 
  • Laryngospasm or vocal cords spasm
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Asphyxiation
  • COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Cancer
  • Premature death

Children are the most vulnerable to these impacts. Constant exposure to NOx emissions can have life-threatening implications for children. One such example is what happened to Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, the young girl from south London who died after a severe asthma attack. She had been in and out of emergency rooms and hospitals for consecutive months due to various respiratory-related issues. An inquest on her death was requested and in December 2020, the coroner officially ruled air pollution as the main cause of the nine-year-old’s early demise. 

Authorities believe that carmakers are responsible for the hassles affected car owners go through because of the defeat devices. As such, every affected driver should file a diesel claim against their carmaker. Each driver deserves to be compensated.

What is my diesel claim and how should I start?

A diesel claim is legal action that you bring against your carmaker so you can receive compensation. It can be an individual case or a GLO (group litigation order). Not all diesel vehicles are affected by the defeat device, so you will have to verify your eligibility.

It’s easy to find out if you are eligible to claim compensation. Just visit and you’ll find all the information you need. Once you’re done, start working with an emissions expert to ensure that your diesel claim moves towards the right direction.

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