The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is going to be expanded to outer London boroughs on 31st August 2023. Anyone not driving a low emission vehicle will have to pay £10 a day to drive in those areas.
This will affect around 15% of car drivers and almost 50% of van drivers. These are primarily people driving older vehicles. (1)
Labour London mayor Sadiq Khan is enacting ULEZ. It has been blamed for Labour losing the recent Uxbridge by-election by just 500 votes.
Ironically for Labour this is a policy which affects the poor disproportionately. Anyone who could afford to buy a newer, lower emission vehicle would buy one, and drive it with no penalty.
Unfortunately for the environment and younger people this issue has become a battle ground for the coming 2024 election.
The Tories are now thinking of scrapping commitments to ULEZs in order to win votes. They are thinking of trashing environmental policies to try and stay in power.
But what do Londoners actually think about this issue?
What do Londoners think of Ultra Low Emission Zones?
There have been several polls on this issue. The results differ depending on how the questions about ULEZ are framed.
If you ask a question purely about ULEZ, then most people support the expansion. However, if you include reference to charges in relation to ULEZ then most people are against it.
This is a useful example of framing bias in social surveys.
ULEZ Survey, charges not mentioned
Question: “To tackle air pollution in the capital, the Mayor of London and Transport for London are proposing to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) London-wide. The proposed implementation date for this is 29th August 2023. Which, if any, of the following comes closest to your view?”
ULEZ Survey: charges mentioned
Question: “To tackle air pollution, some places across the UK like London, are introducing charges in Low Emission Zones (sometimes called Ultra Low Emission Zones or ULEZ) where those who drive the more polluting cars or vehicles have to pay a fee or charge to drive into these areas. Would you support or oppose a similar ULEZ charge in your local area? “
Attitudes to ULEZ Conclusions
I’d be inclined to say the question which mentions charges is a more accurate reflection of public opinion. This is because it includes more specific details so people can provide a more informed response.
We can also see from the above that lower social classes are more likely to be against ULEZ. This makes sense because these are the people who can’t afford to buy newer vehicles.
We also see that younger people are more in favour, which reflects attitudes to the environment more generally.
It is shameful that the Tories are prepared to use the environment as a political tool. They are sacrificing the future of younger people to win a few more seats in the hope of staying in power.
The fact that they are prepared to do this shows us they are no longer worthy to govern.
Sources AND signposting
This is mainly relevant to the social research methods topic. It is a good example of how social surveys are more useful with more detailed questions.
(1) On London (July 2023) How do Londoners really feel about Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion scheme?