London Triples Charge for Gas Guzzlers

Next fall, SUV drivers entering London will have to pay .©

The city of London announced last week that it is upping the ante in its effort to reduce congestion by tripling the current charge levied against gas-guzzling cars and SUVs entering the city’s central district. Starting October 27, cars with poor mileage ratings will be subject to a fee of $49—a 300 percent increase—to enter the busiest section of the city.

"The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the most high-powered 4x4s and sports cars can be up to four times as great as the least-polluting cars," London’s Mayor Ken Livingstone told reporters. Back in 2003, it was Livingstone who introduced the original daily congestion charge on trucks and cars entering central London. According to his office’s estimates around the new version of the plan, 17 percent of the cars that visit central London each day—about 33,000 vehicles—will pay the $49 charge, and just two percent—those in the most fuel efficient vehicles—will enter for free. The remaining 81 percent—and trucks—will continue to pay the pre-existing fee of $16.

London’s congestion charge is widely credited with reducing congestion and encouraging alternative commuting patterns throughout one of Europe’s largest cities. Other cites, including New York, are considering similar plans based on London’s blueprint. Representatives of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups are praising Livingstone for advancing his already forward-thinking plan. According to the Greenpeace UK website, "This effectively changes the purpose of the charge from reducing congestion to reducing pollution, and that’s no bad thing."

Sources: MSNBC; Greenpeace