Smart Transport

London in lockdown sees air quality improve by up to 50%

New research has found rush hour pollution levels have dropped considerably in London during the pandemic lockdown.

They fell up to a 50% during rush hour near Park Lane and double digit improvements in other commuter hotspots in London.

Borough High Street, at the base of London Bridge, saw a 37% reduction in the morning and 47% drop in the evening.

Cowcross Street, near Farringdon Train Station, saw a fall of 38% in the morning and 43% in the evening.

South Street, next to busy Park Lane, saw reductions of 32% and 50% for the morning and then the evening.

The research was carried out by Environmental Defence Fund Europe (EDFE) and Global Action Plan.

EDFE analysed pollution data from the Breathe London monitoring network during morning (8-11am) and evening (5-8pm) commuting hours in the first four weeks of lockdown.

These three sites were also in the top five of overall NO2 pollution reduction locations for the Breathe London network.

NO2 is a toxic pollutant produced when fossil fuels such as diesel, petrol or natural gas are burned. 

In order to keep air pollution down, particularly during rush hour, Global Action Plan is calling on businesses to offer remote working to employees to ease pressure during peak travel times.

Additional research also shows that Londoners are more concerned about the air pollution since lockdown and are keen for it to stay low.

A recent survey by Global Action Plan, commissioned by urban health foundation Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, finds: 

  • 72% of Londoners noticed cleaner air during lockdown
  • 70% of Londoners want government and local authorities to tackle air pollution and traffic more urgently than before the coronavirus outbreak
  • 40% of Londoners are more concerned about air pollution since the coronavirus outbreak
  • 80% of Londoners would like to work remotely after lockdown to some extent
  • 73% of Londoners are happier not dealing with rush hour

Global Action Plan’s Build Back Cleaner Air project with Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Charity is offering free support to help businesses prioritise the most impactful ways to cut air pollution and make a green recovery post lockdown.

Companies can sign up for free, here:

Oliver Lord, EDFE head of policy and campaigns, said: “Last year, the Breathe London network recorded seriously elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution at some in the busiest commuter areas during rush hour.

“Lockdown has made a huge difference. It has shown how much it is in our hands to 'build back better'.”

 Transport Minister Rachel Maclean

Virtual Smart Transport Conference 2020 presentations available to view now

After three packed days of content the first Virtual Smart Transport Conference has come to a close, but delegates can now gain free access to rewatch all the presentations during the show.

How to watch the presentations

Videos can be accessed by heading to the Agenda & Live Stream section of the Virtual Smart Transport Conference event website and choosing sessions to watch from across the three days.

The event featured thought leadership presentations from over 45 key stakeholders from the public and private sector, with opening statements from transport minister Rachel Maclean (pictured) and Mayor for Greater Manchester Combined Authority Andy Burnham.

Watch now

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