Press release: 29 April 2021

Majority of Londoners support expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone

Londoners have sent a clear message to their next Mayor: they expect the successful candidate to clean up London’s fatally dirty air by expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The results are from a YouGov survey carried out for environmental law charity ClientEarth.

Ahead of next week’s Mayoral elections, the poll shows a vast majority of Londoners (68%) think higher-polluting vehicles should pay more than other vehicles for travelling through the capital. A majority (51%) say they support an expansion of the ULEZ, with only 33% opposing it.

The ULEZ has already cut toxic air by more than a third in the parts of the capital it covers. This week marks the 6-month countdown to the expansion of the ULEZ from central London to the North and South Circulars in October 2021. However, some candidates have pledged to scrap the expansion if elected.

Simon Alcock, ClientEarth’s head of public affairs, said: “Toxic air is not going to disappear on its own. This poll clearly shows Londoners want their Mayor to do something about it.

“We know the ULEZ works. That’s why we should make it as wide as possible so it benefits people’s health in all corners of the capital. This needs to be supplemented by help and support for small businesses and people on low incomes so they are able to transition to cleaner forms of transport.”

Ella Fern, mother of two in Barnet, said: “There are many clean air initiatives underway in the central London boroughs, not least the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone to the North and South Circulars this year, but it feels as though we are being overlooked in the outer boroughs, where traffic congestion seems far worse.”

The YouGov poll also shows that three quarters of Londoners think the Mayor has a moral responsibility to clean up air pollution in the capital.

Notably, over two thirds of respondents (68%) are worried about children breathing dirty air.

Fern in Barnet added: “I worry every day that by living where we do, I am exposing my children to high levels of air pollution that will harm their long-term health. We've looked at moving to other areas, but this wouldn't be easy financially and we'd have to move away from jobs and family.”

Alcock added: “It is no surprise parents are so concerned. We have just seen air pollution officially blamed for the tragic death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah. Our capital has the filthiest air in Britain and children are some of the first to suffer.

“The lung capacity of youngsters living in London has been proved to be reduced by living or going to school near main roads. They have to endure the terrible effects of illegal air pollution across the city year after year. Maintaining the status quo is condemning their health.”

Despite the step change brought in by ULEZ in central London, Greater London still charts levels of air pollution that are far above legal limits, making it the most polluted place in the country. Illegal nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution comes mostly from motor vehicles, in particular private cars, which are responsible for an even greater share of the problem in inner and outer London boroughs.

The capital’s poorest households are facing the highest levels of exposure to harmful NO2 pollution. That is despite low-income households having lower car ownership on average.


About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.