Drivers in London now face a $200 fine if they don't pay a new pollution charge

Key Points
  • The Ultra-Low Emission Zone will operate in central London 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Mayor of London Sadiq Khan describes its introduction as a "landmark day for our city."
Howard Kingsnorth | Stone | Getty Images

Authorities in London have launched what they describe as "the world's toughest vehicle emissions standard."

Introduced Monday, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will operate in central London 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan described the introduction of the ULEZ as a "landmark day for our city."

"Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation," he added.

The ULEZ is built around something called "Euro Standards." A framework introduced in 1992, the standards encompass emissions controls which set limitations for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from a vehicle's engine.

Petrol vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards will have to pay the daily £12.50 ($16.32) ULEZ charge in addition to the existing £11.50 Congestion Charge.

Drivers of trucks, buses and coaches that do not meet the ULEZ standards will pay £100 per day. A penalty charge of £160 will be issued to drivers who do not pay the new charge.

"Air pollution can have major health implications on the developing child, with early exposure proven to increase the risk of asthma and lung infections, and these can be life-threatening," Jonathan Grigg, a professor at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said.

"Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from road transport and 45% comes from diesel, so the introduction of London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone … is extremely welcome," Grigg added.

Air pollution poses a serious problem to people all over the world. 4.2 million people die each year "as a result of exposure" to outdoor air pollution, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), while 91 percent of the planet's population live in areas where the air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits.