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Policy Exchange support for LPG

Policy Exchange is the UKs leading independent think tank. As an educational charity their mission is to develop and promote new policy ideas which deliver better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy.

Their 2016 report on London’s Air Quality Crisis highlights the problem of diesel vehicles and includes LPG in the proposed solutions stating “There is also a potential role for vehicles powered by Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) which have substantially lower emissions than diesel vehicles, and are widespread across Europe. Government needs to provide greater certainty about LPG fuel duty in order to drive its adoption” and for taxis “TfL should support the financing of taxi retrofit solutions (for example LPG conversion) provided that these can be shown to meet the equivalent of the Euro 6 standard.“

 

The Executive summary is reproduced below and the full report can be downloaded at http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/ which includes the comments below on the diesel problem and where LPG vehicles can help.

 

“Road transport is the most significant source of NOx emissions and is overwhelmingly a diesel problem. The UK has undergone a massive shift towards diesel vehicles over the last 15 years, supported by European legislation and UK financial incentives geared towards lower CO2 vehicles. Whilst diesel cars had a CO2 advantage in the past, this has now been eroded. However, diesels have much higher emissions of local pollutants (NOx and PM) than petrol or alternatively fuelled vehicles. For example, Euro 5 diesel cars sold in the period 2009–2014 emit on average 20 times more NOx per kilometre than petrol cars sold during the same period. The growth in diesel emissions has meant that NO2 concentrations around Inner London roads have shown little if any improvement since the early 2000s. In hindsight, the shift from petrol to diesel vehicles over the last 15 years has been disastrous in terms of its impact on air quality and health. There needs to

be recognition at European, UK and London level that diesel has been the primary cause of the current air pollution crisis, and that only by moving away from diesel can the situation be improved.

 

Vehicle manufacturers have failed to deliver a sufficient improvement in NOx emissions from diesels. Research shows that Euro 5 diesel cars and vans are no better than the Euro 1 diesels sold in the early 1990s in terms of NOx emissions on the road. The latest Euro 6 diesel cars show some improvement but still have on-road emissions some 2.5 to 7 times higher than the Euro 6 standard. On this basis, a key priority must be to tighten and enforce European diesel emissions standards. The introduction of a “Real Driving Emissions” test which better reflects real world emissions performance is a welcome step forward. But the European Commission has undermined the effectiveness of the test by incorporating a huge margin of error into the way that it will be implemented, in the form of so-called “conformity factors”. We recommend that the European Commission makes further changes to deliver the original Euro 6 diesel car standards in full by 2021, removing unnecessary margin of error. Failure to do so will significantly undermine efforts to clean up road transport.

 

The failure of the emission standards regime has been compounded by the significant shift towards diesels over the last 15 years. Shifting away from diesels to a mix of petrol, hybrid, electric and LPG vehicles can significantly reduce local pollutants whilst having no adverse impact on CO2 emissions. In order to achieve this, the financial incentives that promoted the uptake of diesels in the first place need to be removed and reversed. Changes to Vehicle Excise Duty, Company Car Tax and Capital Allowances are required to reflect the higher NOx emissions associated with diesels.

 

Government should also create a diesel scrappage scheme, providing grants to motorists to take diesel cars and vans off the road and replace them with lower emission alternatives such as petrol or electric. There is also a potential role for vehicles powered by Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) which have substantially lower emissions than diesel vehicles, and are widespread across Europe. Government needs to provide greater certainty about LPG fuel duty in order to drive its adoption.

 

At London level, we propose a number of targeted policies to restrict the most polluting vehicles and promote low emission alternatives, as follows:

 

Low Emission Zones: There is already a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in place across Greater London, but emissions limits are too weak for it to significant impact on NOx emissions. Emissions standards for buses, coaches and HGVs in the Low Emission Zone should be tightened by no later than 2023 (and potentially earlier). There are also plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in Central London from 2020. We propose that the ULEZ emissions standards are tightened further for diesel cars by 2025.

 

Buses: Transport for London should upgrade all buses to a minimum of the Euro VI standard in Central London by 2020 and across the whole of London by 2023 at the latest.


Taxis: Policies already require that newly registered taxis must be ‘Zero Emission Capable’ from 2018 onwards, but this still leaves a large fleet of existing highly-polluting diesel taxis. We recommend reducing the age limit for taxis from 15 years to 10 years by 2025, upgrading all taxis to a minimum of Euro 6. TfL should support the financing of taxi retrofit solutions (for example LPG conversion) provided that these can be shown to meet the equivalent of the Euro 6 standard.


Electric Vehicles and Car Clubs: the widespread adoption of electric vehicles will lead to a significant reduction in local emissions. Electric vehicle car sharing clubs offer the potential to transform car usage patterns, reducing the amount that people drive, as well as overall car ownership. Transport for London needs to work with the London Boroughs to drive the rollout of a competitive pan-London network of charging points and car clubs. 

 

Overall, the combination of existing policies and our proposals is predicted to result in a 75% reduction in NOx emissions from road transport across Greater London by 2025, and an 82% reduction in Central London. The changes to Low Emissions Zones, buses and taxis are predicted to result in significant savings in Central London; whilst the changes to emissions standards and fiscal policies are more significant across London as a whole. The proposed changes to emission standards and fiscal policies would also result in a significant reduction in NOx emissions across the UK as a whole, benefitting other cities which face air pollution issues. The policies also result in a small reduction in CO2 and PM emissions across London.”