The organisation behind national Clean Air Day, Global Action Plan, is calling on the UK’s biggest fleets to lead by example when they sign up to a commitment to replace a proportion of their vans with models that are capable of zero emissions.
Global Action Plan argues that replacing diesel vans with all-electric vans could save lives and millions of pounds in NHS spending on health issues caused by vehicle emissions in urban areas. It follows research which found that pollution from each diesel van in its lifetime could cost the NHS up to £25,000.
The joint study by the University of Oxford and the University of Bath revealed that overall health damage from car and van emissions costs the NHS and society £6 billion per year, with nearly 90% thought to be a result of diesel emissions. The UK’s 3.7 million vans are estimated to be responsible for £2.2bn of this cost.
Inner city areas are the worst affected, where a diesel van incurs health costs of £24,555 over a nine-year lifecycle. Across the UK, the average health impact per diesel van is £5,107. By contrast, the lifetime cost for a battery-electric van would be £1,443, with the health costs relating to non-exhaust emissions, such as particles from brakes and tyres.
The total health cost per vehicle figure is impacted by the age of the van, mileage and driving style, but a shift to zero emissions reduces health costs in all cases.
Global Action Plan’s aim is to initially secure the backing of 100 of the biggest van fleets in the country, because they can make the most impact as they account for hundreds of thousands of commercial vehicles.
Chris Large, partner at Global Action Plan, said: “We highlight this not to bash diesel, but to impress the need for urgent action.
“I believe there are some huge opportunities for those organisations that decide to lead on adopting clean technologies in their fleet.
“This is an open invitation for large fleet operators to join this Clean Van Commitment, to be part of the leading van fleet operators who are showing that we do want to solve this problem.”
Parts of London have some of the worst air pollution in the UK; and the city is taking action to address it.
Shirley Rodrigues, London deputy mayor for Environment and Energy, said: “As part of our targets for a zero-carbon city by 2050, electrification of our fleet is absolutely critical.
“We need to clean up London’s dangerous air and we need to act now. Our partners and businesses have a role to play in improving air quality. We need to make sure the infrastructure businesses require is there and we are looking at how smart technology and data can help.”
Bex Bolland, head of air quality for Global Action Plan, concluded: “We are prioritising where the health impact is the greatest and it is an opportunity for fleets to differentiate themselves. We want to get fleets representing each sector of industry to join up.”
Are you considering making a Clean Vans Commitment?
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