The world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has launched in London, meaning cars that do not meet emission standards will have to pay £12.50 a day to enter.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the introduction of the ULEZ will reduce road transport NOx emissions by around 45% in central London. Other complementary measures include cleaning up Transport for London’s buses, no longer licensing diesel taxis, and expanding the ULEZ to inner London in 2021.

Khan said: “London has always been a progressive and forward-thinking city, and a hub for innovation and climate action. Now more than ever, we must uphold this reputation and lead from the front on environmental issues

“Air quality is one area where we can do this and make a real difference right now. I believe passionately that every Londoner – and every child in our city – should have the right to breathe clean air, regardless of the postcode they live in or the social class they belong to.”

Commenting on the ULEZ introduction, LowCVP managing director Andy Eastlake said: “The introduction of restrictions on older, polluting vehicle access is one of the most important tools for tackling pollution in areas where the air quality is at its worst and for encouraging alternative, cleaner travel options.

“Poor air quality is unequal in its impacts; it tends to have the greatest effect on the youngest, oldest and poorest in our communities.

“Other cities with air quality challenges will be looking very closely at how London’s ULEZ works and a successful introduction will embolden more to follow Birmingham and Leeds in introducing Clean Air Zones (CAZ) to their communities.”

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, the joint government and industry campaign to promote the uptake of electric vehicles, said: “For businesses regularly driving in London, the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone means there has never been a better time to consider incorporating electric vehicles into fleets.

“Offering exemptions from both the Ultra Low Emission and Congestion Charge zones, cheaper running, maintenance and tax costs, as well as a government grant towards the purchase price of qualifying zero emission vehicles, they can offer considerable whole life cost savings.

“With a number of other cities, including Leeds and Birmingham, set to introduce clean air zones over the coming years, now could be the perfect time to invest in a lower emission, and lower cost, electric vehicle fleet.”