​Boris Johnson calls for mass scrapping of diesel cars

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The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is calling for the scrappage of diesel cars after research suggests that diesel models are more polluting than petrol rivals – even though they typically emit less CO2 than petrol equivalents per kilometre, which is what current road tax levels are based on.

After years of government car taxation being based on CO2 emissions, a huge proportion of drivers have shifted to diesel models from petrols when replacing their cars. Consequently, the proportion of diesel cars in the UK rocketed to 50 per cent in 2012 – up from a mere 14 per cent in 2000.

It's not just older cars that the Mayor has his sights on; Mr Johnson has called for all diesel cars over a year old to be scrapped and wants owners to be paid between £1,000 and £2,000 in recompense – even though the most expensive diesel models currently available cost way over £80,000.

Mr Johnson has said that millions of car buyers were "seduced" into buying diesels on the premise that they were more environmentally friendly. However, a number of scientists have stated that diesels produce more particulate emissions, which are damaging to human health, along with higher emissions of nitrogen oxides. Senior scientists have even claimed that diesel emissions are responsible for 7,000 deaths in Britain every year, the Daily Mail reports.

The Mayor told the Commons Environmental Audit Committee: "This has been a massive failure of public policy. Millions were told they were doing the right thing, the clean thing, the environmentally friendly thing, by buying a diesel. They feel very hacked off now they're told they are more polluting."

Britain is already facing £300 million in fines from the European Commission after repeatedly missing strict nitrogen dioxide pollution targets which should have been met by January 2010. When asked why he had not introduced the London ultra-low emission zone sooner, Mr Johnson said: "The reason for not going any faster is simply we have got to be fair to the punter, to people buying vehicles now. They will feel very aggrieved that a car on which they have spent a huge sum of money is not going to be compliant."

A Department for Transport spokesman, however, has confirmed: "There are no current plans for a car scrappage scheme." New plans from the Mayor have also raised the idea of making drivers pay for every mile they cover in attempt to cut air pollution levels. This idea could result in road tax and fuel duty replaced with road charging, with the lowest emission vehicles receiving discounts.