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London mayor slaps tax on older cars with ‘world’s first ultra-low emission zone’

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Andrew Holt | Photolibrary | Getty Images

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has upped his war on polluting traffic with plans for an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) covering the city's central area.

From April 2019, the worst polluting cars and vans will have to pay a daily charge to drive in central London with an aim of reducing nitrogen dioxide by 50 percent.

On that date, petrol cars more than 13 years old and diesel cars more than 4 years old will have to pay £12.50 ($16) to drive in the area.

The charge will replace a previously announced "Toxicity-charge" of £10, which comes in to force this October.

"The air in London is lethal and I will not stand by and do nothing," said the Mayor in a press release Tuesday.

Khan also proposed to extend the scheme, so that by 2021 it would cover all polluting vehicles inside a much larger area of London.

"I want to expand the ULEZ from 2020 for heavy vehicles such as buses, coaches and trucks so that all of London will benefit from cleaner air.

"Then from 2021, I want to expand it up to the North and South Circular roads for light vehicles, including cars and vans. These measures will help improve the air that millions of Londoners breathe," he said.

For buses, coaches and heavy goods trucks, the ULEZ daily fee will be £100 per day.

Patrick Kovarik | AFP | Getty Images

Nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London due to long-term exposure to air pollution, according to a 2015 study by King's College London.

In December 2016, Sadiq Khan said that £875 million would be spent to boost air quality in London over 5 years.

The U.K. capital is not the only major capital looking to tackle road traffic pollution. The mayors of four major cities – Mexico City, Madrid, Paris and Athens – recently pledged to ban diesel vehicles from their streets by 2025.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has claimed that around 3 million deaths every year are linked to people's exposure to outdoor air pollution.