A toxicity charge aimed at discouraging the use of polluting vehicles in central London has come into force.
As of Monday morning, drivers of "older, more polluting petrol and the dirtiest diesel vehicles" will have to pay a £10 ($13.18) "T-Charge" on top of the long-standing £11.50 Congestion Charge.
Authorities said that as many as 34,000 vehicles per month are liable for the T-Charge, which will be applicable on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The charge will apply to vehicles that do not meet 'Euro 4' standards for particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions. Authorities said that 'pre-Euro 4' vehicles were usually those registered before 2006 and more than 12 years old. Transport for London is also advising motorists with cars registered before 2008 to check if their vehicle is liable for the charge via a free, online checker.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he was determined to take urgent action to help clean up London's "lethal air."
"The shameful scale of the public health crisis London faces, with thousands of premature deaths caused by air pollution, must be addressed," Khan said. "Today marks a major milestone in this journey with the introduction of the T-Charge to encourage motorists to ditch polluting, harmful vehicles."
The problem of air pollution in London is a serious one. At the beginning of October, research showed that every resident in the city lives in an area where the World Health Organization's (WHO) guidelines for toxic PM2.5 particles are exceeded.
The study, which was based on the updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, also claimed that 7.9 million Londoners live in areas where WHO guidelines are exceeded by 50 percent or more.
The Royal College of Physicians' Stephen Holgate said that air pollution had "a substantial impact on many chronic long-term conditions, increasing strokes and heart attacks in susceptible individuals." Holgate described the implementation of the T-Charge as being a "positive step" towards cleaning up London's air.
The new T-charge was also welcomed by environmental groups. "It's just not possible to clean up London's air without cleaning up London's roads, and that's why we support the mayor's first steps to tackle air pollution by introducing the T-charge," Rosie Rodgers, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said.
"London now joins Paris, Copenhagen and many other progressive cities in taking urgent steps towards removing polluting diesel cars from their streets."