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London To Transform Congestion Charge Into Climate Change Fee

<p>Owners of gas-guzzling SUVs would pay $50 to drive into the central city, while drivers of low emission vehicles would now be exempt from the $16 congestion charge.</p>
April 3, 2008, 12pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"For five years, London has been assessing drivers a daily "congestion charge," now set at $16, to drive into the central city and a large swath around it, a fee designed to tackle the infernal bottlenecks that have turned much of London into a parking lot.

The program has become a test case for major cities around the world. The New York City Council this week voted for a three-year trial program that would impose an $8 charge on vehicles entering Midtown and Lower Manhattan, a plan that still needs approval from the state Legislature.

San Francisco has studied imposing a charge as a way of easing central-city traffic jams; cities in Norway and Sweden have also flirted with congestion pricing; and Singapore has been charging downtown drivers since 1975.

But London's pending carbon dioxide emissions charge goes beyond traffic control and establishes one of the first significant municipal climate change programs in the world.

It is designed to lure -- some would say shock -- Londoners out of their big Porsches, V6 Mondeos and 4x4s and into respectable Priuses or Renault Clios.

Drivers of the lowest-emitting cars would no longer have to pay the $16-a-day congestion charge to enter the central city.

The north Italian city of Milan in January launched a one-year trial program requiring drivers who enter an inner zone to buy an "Eco Pass," with cars emitting large quantities of CO2 or running on dirty diesel engines having to pay as much as $14.70 a day. But people who live in Milan's city center face a maximum payment of $387.50 a year; in London, inner-city residents could be paying $12,000 or more."

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Published on Thursday, April 3, 2008 in The Los Angeles Times
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