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Four major cities pledge to ban diesel engines over safety fears

But will any UK cities follow these ambitious plans?

Four major world cities have pledged to ban all diesel vehicles from their streets by 2020 as world leaders attempt to tackle the crisis of dangerous air pollution.

Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City will implement the bans following a climate meeting in Mexico where mayors put their weight behind electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles, and walking and cycling.

Diesel engines are thought to be behind the toxic air pollution that causes at least half a million premature deaths in Europe each year, with pariculate matter and nitrogen oxides the main health concerns.

At a climate meeting in Mexico, the cities’ mayors also pledged to incentivise electric, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles, and walking and cycling.

The move comes amid increasing concerns about the impact of diesel engines on the health of people living in cities.

Last week a report found that air pollution causes nearly half a million premature deaths each year in Europe alone.

Anne Hidalgo, Paris’s mayor, told the BBC: “Our city is implementing a bold plan - we will progressively ban the most polluting vehicles from the roads, helping Paris citizens with concrete accompanying measures.”

“Our ambition is clear and we have started to roll it out: we want to ban diesel from our city, following the model of Tokyo, which has already done the same.”

Mexico City’s mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said: “By expanding alternative transportation options like our Bus Rapid Transport and subway systems, while also investing in cycling infrastructure, we are working to ease congestion in our roadways and our lungs.”

German politicians have already voted a ban on combustion-engine cars by 2030, a law which must now be adopted by the EU.

Back in May, we reported how the Mayor of London announced his plans to introduce a new T-Charge” to reduce toxic pollution in central London from next year.

Sadiq Khan will try to pile the charges for the most polluting vehicles on top of the congestion charge, and further extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), planned to come into force from 2020.

It could run city-wide, from the North Circular to the South Circular, in  ambitious plans - meaning that cars and trucks that fail to comply will have to pay £12.50 per day to travel in the zone.

Mr Khan says he is acting with urgency, as pollution is thought to be causing over 9,000 deaths a year in the capital.

Mr Khan told the Evening Standard: "We need big, bold and sometimes difficult policies if London is to match the scale of the challenge.

“I have been elected with a clear mandate to clean up London’s air – our biggest environmental challenge.

“In the past, London has only responded after an emergency, like with the Clean Air Act, which followed the Great London Smogs of the 1950s.

“But I want to act before an emergency, which is why we need big, bold and sometimes difficult policies if London is to match the scale of the challenge.”

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