Polling shows 62% of Londoners think air pollution is an issue in their local area

May 2, 2024
Despite the fall of diesel fuel sales in London, there is still a huge appetite for further action to address air pollution in the capital.

Transport & Environment analysis of Department for Energy Security and Net Zero figures has shown that sales of diesel in London fell nearly 40% over the past four years (compared to 20% in the rest of the country), demonstrating the positive impacts of the ULEZ.

New polling from Ipsos commissioned by Transport & Environment UK and the Clean Cities Campaign, found that 62% of London respondents thought that air pollution was an issue in their local area to some or a great extent. 63% of London respondents agreed they wanted local leaders to prioritise improving air quality in their area.

Despite the significant fall of diesel fuel sales in London, there is still a huge appetite for further action to address air pollution in the capital, which the government has called the “largest environmental risk to public health”.

The Ipsos polling also found three in ten Londoners (31%) were unaware of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). A primary aim for the ULEZ is to reduce levels of NO2. But the latest data, published by campaign group Mums for Lungs, shows that every monitor in the capital – more than 2,000 – bar one, recorded levels of NO2 higher than World Health Organization guidelines in 2022.

Percentage of Londoners unaware of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)

The Clean Cities Campaign and Mums for Lungs are part of the Healthy Air Coalition, which is calling on the Mayoral candidates to ditch diesel completely in the city by 2030 bringing both climate and health benefits. Children across the capital are sending candidates a postcard urging them to take action on air pollution and to make it easier for Londoners to access air quality data, information and evidence.

“Londoners want their local leaders to prioritise action on air pollution and the fall in diesel fuel sales suggests they are taking action themselves. With the right commitment, coordination and leadership from all levels of government, Londoners could finally break free of diesel by 2030, only when coupled with the support to make that happen and especially for small businesses.”

“Air pollution from diesel vehicles is known to cause cancer, asthma and stunted lungs. The UK has one of the highest emergency admission and death rates for childhood asthma in Europe. There is no doubt about it: for so many reasons, but primarily for children's health - diesel fumes have got to go and government at all levels needs to ensure that it is phased out in a fair and equitable way. With the right support and leadership, London could be the first major city to phase out dirty diesel engines by 2030, but for some specific exemptions.”

Notes to editors:

  • On behalf of Transport & Environment UK and Clean Cities, Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,315 adults aged 18-75 in Great Britain on the i:omnibus online. This included 296 adults from London. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions for age and working status within gender as well as government office region, social grade and education. Fieldwork was conducted 21st-26th March 2024.
  • 62% of those surveyed in London said that air pollution is an issue in their local area (to a great or some extent). 74% said traffic congestion was an issue to some/great extent; 64% noise pollution from traffic and vehicles; 63% potholes/ poor road quality; 62% lack of car parking; 50% narrow, missing or obstructed pavements; 26% lack of public transport.
  • 63% of London respondents agreed (strongly agree or tend to agree) with the statement ‘I would like local leaders to prioritise improving air quality in our area’.
  • A London borough breakdown of the number of monitoring sites exceeding WHO guidelines can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VOHq-Ry8bXJ4QVGNHXruxBID3T9HES89Z8xwfH94VpQ/edit?usp=sharing


Press contact: Alexander Killeen, alexander.killeen@transportenvironment.org.

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