Nudging In The UK

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Electric cars using the bus lane (left) during morning rush hour in Oslo, Norway. Photograph: Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images

Like the little victories in wilderness conservation, which may be too little to late or maybe a bright spot on a bleak horizon, the small moves in the right direction on other environmental fronts seem promising, and therefore worthy of note. We salute Mayor Khan for his efforts to get Londoners to do their part, according to this story below. It reminds me of Richard Thaler‘s explanation of the power of nudging things along in the right direction, and wishing these nudge stories were more commonplace in the eight years since we started hearing about them:

Electric vehicles could go first at traffic lights under UK clean air zone plans

Government proposals to tackle air pollution in five UK cities could see electric vehicle drivers using bus lanes and getting priority at traffic lights

Drivers of electric vehicles could be allowed to use bus lanes in five UK cities and even go first at traffic lights, to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, the government has suggested.

Launching its consultation on clean air zones to be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, the environment department said air pollution killed 50,000 people each year at an annual cost to society of £27.5bn.

Electric vehicles, which emit no pollution directly, are seen as a key way for local authorities to bring down levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the five cities, which are in breach of EU limits.

Local authorities should consider incentives to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles, said the draft clean air zone framework, published on Thursday.

These could include cheaper parking and “allowing access to bus lanes, exemptions from other restrictions such as one way systems, and priority at traffic lights for Ulevs [ultra low-emission vehicles].” But local authorities will be encouraged to consult with residents on such ideas first, an environment department spokeswoman said.

The government said it wants each city to have a mandatory charge by 2020 for dirty buses, coaches, taxis and lorries, but not private cars. Birmingham and Leeds will tackle older vans too.

Next week the environment secretary, Andrea Leadsom, faces a legal challenge from environmental law group ClientEarth in the high court over the government’s NO2 clean-up plans.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, this week called the capital’s toxic air a “health emergency” as he launched proposals for a bigger and earlier clean air zone than the one planned by his predecessor, Boris Johnson. Unlike the other schemes, London’s does cover cars…

Read the whole story here.

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