Stop killing our kids! An open letter to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.

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Dear Mr Khan,

I admit my headline is rather sensationalist, and deliberately so.

Whilst I’m encouraged by the measures you announced recently, it’s too little, too slow.

Environmental policies over which your office has control are responsible for the deaths of 10,000 people every year, and children are the most vulnerable group.

The air quality in London is a national disgrace, worse by some considerable margin than a dozen other European capitals.

Do you really think we parents should have to use buggy covers when we stroll with our babies, or plan routes away from traffic just so we can teach our little ones to walk?

Is it really acceptable that kids are growing up afraid to play outdoors, for fear of affecting their life expectancy?

This is an immediate and critical problem. Every day that goes by, hundreds of children in your city are being condemned to poor lung growth and a lifetime of health problems. Asthma, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and lung cancer lie ahead for generations of our delicate babes.  

Whenever I travel to London, I’m left feeling sick, dizzy and with a noticeable sore throat.

I know you’re concerned about this, but minor adjustments to the congestion charge are nowhere near enough.

Here are some measures you could, and should be taking right now on behalf of everyone in London:

  1. A revamp of legislation around black cabs. For example:
  • Give a maximum period of 3 years for taxi-drivers to trade-in all diesel cabs for the readily available electric versions
  • Accelerate work on a city-wide network of fast chargers for electric taxi use
  • Provide scrappage payments for the old oil-burners with higher incentives to act sooner
  • In the meantime mandate that auto cut-offs are fitted to all black cabs to eliminate engine idling when stationary
  1. Further increase congestion charges on all diesel and petrol vehicles, including and especially diesel minicabs.
  2. Create EV and hybrid-only zones.
  3. Place an immediate moratorium on the building of any more car parks to discourage vehicle use in the city, and increase VAT on existing car park charges to 50%.
  4. Ban wood-burning stoves in all London properties.
  5. Replace all diesel and petrol council vehicles with electric or hybrid alternatives over 3 years.
  6. Ban all non-electric or hybrid commercial vehicles over 3 tonnes from London in daylight hours. If deliveries are made at night, fewer people will be affected by direct pollution, and vehicles will spend less time stationary in traffic, further reducing emissions.
  7. Encourage shorter visits into town by splitting congestion charge into hourly segments.
  8. Introduce PSV licensing charges based on emissions to incentivise bus companies to run cleaner fleets, including commissioning smaller vehicles for off-peak services.
  9. Engage with energy companies to fund accelerated growth in EV chargers around the city, powered from renewable sources.  

There are countless more ways to deliver an eco-solution for London’s road transport, but something needs to kick-start a revolution, and now. The 10 measures listed above are indicative of the thinking that should be employed, casting aside once and for all any political motives or bias.

Some of those measures will be expensive, crazy expensive, but there is no price too high to pay for our children’s health. Furthermore, none of those measures are either impractical or technologically unfeasible.

True change is needed, and will come from the sum of some large actions, and numerous small ones.

Show us how much you care, truly care, and start making disruptive decisions which will cement your legacy as London’s first ever “clean” mayor, and the first to put long-term public health ahead of the vested interests of the automotive and road transport industry.

What do you say, Mr K?   

Yours hopefully,

Jonny Cooper

The Angry EV-Guy


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