Almost one in three of the cars owned by Lambeth residents runs on diesel, an analysis of Department for Transport figures by local London Assembly Member Florence Eshalomi shows.
Of the 64,500 cars owned in Lambeth, 18,674 (29%) use diesel. The London-wide average is 31%.
Eshalomi, the Labour Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark, backed London mayor Sadiq Khan’s call for a national diesel scrappage scheme and urged the government to act quickly.
“Having almost 19,000 diesel cars on Lambeth roads undoubtedly poses a significant risk to the health of residents,” she said.
“Many car owners will have bought diesel cars in good faith when the evidence suggested diesel cars were better for the environment.
“With more recent evidence showing diesel to have numerous public health risks, it’s only right that we do everything possible to reduce the number of these cars on our roads.
“I welcome the Mayor’s call to introduce a scrappage scheme, and I urge the government to act quickly. This is a serious health risk which demands a serious – and timely – response.”
The World Health Organisation classified diesel exhaust as a “definite carcinogen” in 2012. A 2014 report from Transport for London cited the growing popularity of diesel as a factor in London’s failure to comply with EU air pollution limits.
Dr Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, also warned in 2014 that some diesel emissions, such as “black carbon”, can have a much bigger health impact than other pollutants.
The campaign group Doctors against Diesel said in a letter to the Prime Minister last week that diesel vehicles could cause “irreversible lung damage” to children. It pointed out that the government’s own chief medical officer has said diesel vehicles should be phased out.
The letter was signed by professors of paediatrics and public health from universities including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary, and the Faculty of Public Health as well as hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, who said diesel vehicles are causing a “health emergency”.
There are over 67,000 hybrid electric cars in London, but that is just 3% of the total.
The mayor’s proposals include a scheme offering up to £2,000 to help low-income (below £231.60 a week after housing costs) households to scrap up to 130,000 old diesel cars.