The EU ‘Euro-V’ emissions law comes into effect on January 1st 2011, which means it'll be illegal to sell new cars that are not compliant with the Euro-V emissions standard. Many cars already are of course, as the manufacturers are given a while to bring their products up to the new standards before they come into force.
What does Euro-V mean for Londoners?
For one thing, it means cleaner diesel vehicles, so over the long term this will help reduce particulate emissions , although if there is a shift from petrol to diesel (as there currently is), this effect will act in the opposite direction as diesels are still more polluting even when Euro-V-compliant.
The other effect is that Euro-V-compliant cars with emissions below 100g/km will be exempt from the congestion charge. As all cars will now be Euro-V-compliant, and an increasing number fall into the exempt <100g/km band, this means more and more people will be exempt from the charge. As I've pointed out before, this is amounts to an abolition of the charge by stealth and can only be bad news for congestion, and therefore for emissions.
Meanwhile, the Mayor has proposals to introduce age limits for taxis and minicabs to ensure the most polluting of these vehicles are removed from London's roads subject to consultation with the taxi and Private Hire Vehicle trade. The proposal is for a 15 year rolling age limit from 2012 and a
10 year rolling age limit in 2015. The Mayor will also work with the industry to develop a zero-emission
taxi by 2020. Needless to say, cabbies are none-too-keen on this idea as there's no upside for them. However,although it's likely that this move may put fares up a little it's unlikely to bankrupt anyone: the additional depreciation works out at a few pounds a day. If it does reduce the market for taxi services, this would be good news for emissions given they account for over 20% of PM10 emissions. Needless to say, it'll be 5 years before the proposals begin to take effect, and presumably 10 years before the last non-Euro-V-compliant vehicles head for the scrapheap, so this typical of the Mayor's torpid response to the air quality problem. The final Air Quality Strategy will be published "later this year".