Previously published at Common Dreams, EcoWatch, and World Economic Forum

Starting next August, drivers of the most polluting vehicles will have to pay $15 per day to enter an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone expanded to include all of metropolitan London, the British capital’s mayor announced Friday.

“Cleaner air is coming to Outer London,” Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted. “Today I’m announcing that we’re expanding the #ULEZ London-wide in a move that will bring cleaner air to five million more Londoners.”

“Our city is being smothered by toxic air–and it’s hurting and killing Londoners, leading to asthma, dementia, and even cancer,” the mayor continued. “Air pollution particles have even been found in the livers and brains of unborn babies. We cannot stand idly by and allow this to continue.”

“Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs,” Khan added. “That’s why this expansion is so important–we need to clean the air for everyone.”

London Public Health Director Kevin Fenton tweeted that “air pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health in the U.K… It affects everyone who lives and works in London, and its impacts are felt throughout the life-course from before birth to old age.”

The advocacy group Mums for Lungs, which has been campaigning for an expanded ULEZ since 2018, called the new policy “a huge win for health.”

“Air pollution is affecting children before they’re even born, and giving them lifelong health issues,” the group added. “We welcome this move to further clean up London’s air.”

As the BBC details:

Under the scheme, which was introduced in 2019, drivers are charged to enter the area within London’s north and south-circular orbital roads but the charge is not applied across the capital. People with non-compliant cars who live in the ULEZ are not exempt from daily charges…

Some 60% of those who responded to the public consultation into the expansion plans were opposed to it, with 70% of residents in Outer London against the idea, and 80% of workers in Outer London opposed. The Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives described the opposition as “overwhelming” and “staggering” and criticized the mayor for pushing ahead with the plans despite the public response.

However, climate and environmental defenders welcomed Khan’s announcement.

“Finally, after SO many years of Green campaigning, the mayor has finally had the political courage to act and deliver cleaner air for ALL of London,” tweeted London Assembly Member Sian Berry of City Hall Greens. “We pushed for a London-wide ULEZ and won!”