A new report on air pollution during COVID-19 has recommended the ’acceleration’ of the electrification of diesel taxis and extending low emission zones in cities across the UK.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Air Pollution launched its Air Quality Strategy to Reduce Coronavirus Infection during its first digital meeting a fortnight ago.
During the launch, academics from three universities presented research that showed higher severity and frequency of COVID-19 cases caused by air pollution and examined how lockdown has reduced air pollution exposure.
Geraint Davies, the APPG Chair, presented the report, written using evidence from scientists, businesses and local authorities.
In the report twelve sets of proposals were included, ranging from the continuation of home working, increasing spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, more frequent public transport services and greater control on private transport.
In the proposals put forward by the APPG there was heavy emphasis put on reducing vehicle pollution whilst supporting greener transport during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the proposals put forward which could affect the taxi and private hire industries include:
Acceleration of the electrification of diesel taxis
Acceleration of electric vehicle rollouts and infrastructure
Introduce vehicle scrappage schemes for older vehicles
Reduce or establish zero vehicle excise duty for electric or hydrogen vehicles
Bring forward ban on new fossil fuel engines to 2030 at the latest
Extend the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Congestion Zone in UK cities
Non-essential vehicle travel stopped during lockdown.
There are also more proposals being put forward to help encourage cycling in the UK. These included repurposing traffic lanes and parking spaces for cycling and wider footways. Also on the list of propositions was to promote greater pedestrianisation in cities.