A trade association representing makers and distributors of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) have written to Mayor Sadiq Khan challenging the accuracy of claims he made about the fuel’s clean air credentials.
At last month’s Mayor’s Question Time session, Mr Khan was asked to consider supporting the conversion of diesel powered taxis to LPG as a step towards delivering his pledge to clean up the capital’s air.
While accepting the converted vehicles would be less clean than a new zero emission Taxi, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon told the Mayor that conversion costs around £10,000 per vehicle, a charge far more affordable to the capital’s cabbies than the £60,000 cost of a new cab.
Urged to consider the impact of a trial of LPG converted cabs in Birmingham, Mr Khan said TfL and City Hall had already done so and “noticed carbon dioxide emissions increased significantly.”
He also claimed that “LPG offers some potential carbon dioxide savings over petrol, but limited air quality benefits.”
Following the session, trade body UKLPG wrote to the Mayor “to address your assertions regarding automotive LPG and to provide an accurate picture of its potential as an air quality solution for London.”
The body says despite assertions that the Birmingham trial resulted in higher CO2 emissions, “the project has been a huge success, resulting in significant NOx and particulate matters reductions, lower carbon emissions and very high driver satisfaction”.
UKLPG also highlights Government guidance that conversion to LPG “would allow taxi drivers to continue to operate without changes to their service.”
The advice, published last month by DEFRA, says: “This is particularly important for taxi drivers as they would be affected by any class of charging Clean Air Zone introduced. In addition, many taxi drivers are self-employed and so are likely to be impacted by local plans.”
The letter also challenges the Mayor’s claims that the fuel only has “limited air quality benefits,” saying: “In contrast to your assertion, LPG has significant air quality benefits and produces substantially lower well-to-wheel carbon emissions compared to diesel and petrol. It offers a cleaner alternative for taxi and van drivers whilst not compromising on London’s carbon objectives and your ambitions for a zero emission Capital.”
City Hall says it will respond to the letter shortly, but a spokesperson said: “Whilst the Mayor is supportive of any fuel that has a proven ability to reduce pollution, he is committed to delivering the greatest reductions in carbon emissions and air pollution by working towards a zero-emission transport network.
“This does not preclude the use of LPG fuel but research has so far shown it is a bridging fuel with limited air quality benefits that often requires a technically challenging and costly conversion of vehicles.”