London’s ruling body, the City of London Corporation, has banned the purchase or hide of diesel vehicles for its businesses, it announced on Friday. The decision was taken in the interest of protecting the public’s health and well-being.

Image credits Joseph Plotz / Wikimedia.

Chris Bell, head of procurement at the City of London Corporation, said that the organization takes improving air quality “extremely seriously,” and has thus decided to clamp down on diesel vehicles. It announced Friday that it will no longer lease or purchase diesel models when vehicles from its extensive fleet of 300 need replacement. While not as drastic as the bans other cities have set, their decision is a step in the right direction.

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“This agreement is a major step forward in our drive to protect the millions of London tourists, workers and residents from air pollution,” Bell said in a statement. “We are taking responsibility for the cleanliness of our fleet and encouraging the use of low and zero emission vehicles with our partners.”

The authority said it has reduced the NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions from its vehicles by over 40 per cent and PM10 (particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter) emissions by over 50 per cent since 2009. The brunt of this reduction was achieved by reducing the number of vehicles it employs and replacing the remaining ones with newer, cleaner models. It also tries to promote the use of hybrid cars and encourage business owners to limit deliveries in the Square Mile.

But not every type of vehicle can be replaced. The Corporation said it will continue to use such vehicles — tractors for example — in their current diesel-chugging models until a clean alternative becomes available.

Simon Birkett, founder of Clear Air in London, welcomes the initiative, saying that London is showing Mayor Sadiq Khan and other members of the government that it’s possible to ban diesel vehicles.

“It’s no longer ‘if’ but ‘where’ and ‘when’ diesel will be banned,” he told BusinessGreen, adding that such bans should be supported by a massive investment in active travel and public transport.