UIez zones are a sticking plaster to a much bigger problem (Picture: Matt Brown on Flickr)

Air pollution kills, and saving thousands of lives in London means tackling poison from vehicles. But the extended Ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) charge that came into operation in the capital this week is full of problems.

It hits poorer people far more than the rich because the £12.50 a day charge is targeted on the oldest vehicles. And the scrappage scheme to replace a vehicle is still far too limited.

Above all, public transport doesn’t deliver the services people need easily or cheaply enough for many to get to work easily or visit their friends or have a day out. This creates the chance for the right to pose as the friends of car-owning ordinary people.

And Labour gives them credibility because as soon as the government criticised Ulez, Keir Starmer conceded to all their arguments and asked mayor Sadiq Khan to rethink it.

The real issue is that Ulez is far too little and too late. The original, more limited Ulez did cut traffic in the centre of London.

But a study by Imperial College suggested the emissions reduction was less than 3 percent for nitrogen dioxide and insignificant for dangerous PM2.5 concentrations.

Neither the Tories nor Labour have environmental policies that are prepared to confront the big polluting firms, tackle the fossil fuel economy and boost public transport massively.


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