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Sadiq Khan's ULEZ Propaganda
Sadiq Khan, the Labour Party mayor of London, has recently made some ridiculous claims about the effectiveness of the "Ultra-Low-Emission Zone" (ULEZ) scheme he is extending across Greater London. London's ULEZ is not his idea and is not something he is promoting in the public interest.
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ULEZ, as it is called today, was first introduced to London by his Conservative Party mayoral predecessor Boris Johnson and backed by then Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. This was an enhancement of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) introduced in 2008 by Johnson's own mayoral predecessor, the Labour Party's Ken Livingstone.
Despite numerous ULEZ protests, with people even going to the lengths of cutting down or blinding the ULEZ number plate recognition (NPR) cameras, London's elected mayor is continuing the policy of his Conservative and Labour predecessors. The Labour Party's deputy leader, Angela Rayner, recently stated:
You have got to remember that this [ULEZ] is coming to towns and cities across the UK.
Rayner also opined that the Conservative Steve Tuckwell won the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election because he campaigned against ULEZ expansion into the borough. Tuckwell said it was a de facto "referendum on ULEZ."
Having won the parliamentary seat, Tuckwell immediately distanced himself from his own supposed anti-ULEZ stance. He said that ULEZ opposition was led "not by me, not by my campaign, but by the messages that were coming from the doorsteps." Promising to be a "voice for the people," who overwhelmingly oppose ULEZ, as reported by PoliticsHome, Tuckwell is now just "a backbench MP" who "does not have the power to change the policy."
Indeed, it seems that no elected politician or government has the power to change the policy. The "policy" is consistent no matter whom you elect and no matter where you look.
Voters in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, who elected Tuckwell hoping he would stop ULEZ, were deceived and wasted their time. Had they elected the Labour candidate that would also have been useless. If you oppose ULEZ, voting is nothing more than a futile and demoralising gesture. Voting only matters if you support ULEZ. There is no choice.
The reason for this is that the policy emanates from the United Nations (UN), not national governments nor elected mayors. Following the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the UN published Agenda 21.
Under Programme Areas - The Basis for Action, section 4.5 states:
Special attention should be paid to the demand for natural resources generated by unsustainable consumption and to the efficient use of those resources consistent with the goal of minimizing depletion and reducing pollution. [. . .] Changing consumption patterns will require a multipronged strategy focusing on demand, meeting the basic needs of the poor [. . .].
ULEZ will certainly change demand and consumption patterns. Londoners who can't afford a compliant vehicle will be forced to use public transport or stay confined close to their homes. Clearly, this does not meet the needs of the poor but the concept is only mentioned in Agenda 21 as a ‘nod and a wink’ to the 1987 Brundtland Commission Report which defined "sustainable development" as:
[. . .] development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs [. . .] in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given.
The Brundtland Report added:
Thus the goals of economic and social development must be defined in terms of sustainability in all countries.
Building on this idea that all countries must adopt "sustainable development," s. 6.41 (ii) of Agenda 21 decrees that governments must:
Develop air pollution control capacities in large cities, emphasizing enforcement programmes and using monitoring networks, as appropriate.
S.7.52 (b) states that all countries should "adopt urban-transport programmes favouring high-occupancy public transport." To this end, authorities should "devote particular attention to effective traffic management." S.9.14 outlined the objective "to limit, reduce or control, as appropriate, harmful emissions into the atmosphere and other adverse environmental effects of the transport sector."
ULEZ is an enforcement programme that supposedly controls air pollution. Its provides a monitoring network, via its NPR cameras, that will force people to change their "consumption patterns."ULEZ favours “high-occupancy public transport” and it will supposedly limit, reduce and control "harmful emissions."
Many people argue that Agenda 21 is nothing more than an idea, just a "non-binding" action plan. Perhaps so, but that doesn't change the fact that it has shaped policy globally for more than three decades. All governments are committed to the principles of sustainable development.
Ideas are often very powerful. Especially if they are universally adopted by the powerful.
Khan's ULEZ policy is entirely in keeping with the plan decreed by the UN and its partners in 1992. ULEZ fully complies with the Agenda 21 ambition to develop sustainable "transport systems in human settlements."
In addition to being the mayor of London, a position to which he was "elected," Sadiq Khan is the current chair of the C40 Cities "global network." No Londoners gave him any kind of mandate to assume this leadership role.
As Chair of C40, Sadiq committed to "raising the bar on climate ambition" and has resolved to advocate "the role of cities in addressing the climate crisis." Whether Londoners believe in the climate alarm gibberish or not, is irrelevant. Sadiq has a job to do for his immensely wealthy backers and he is determined to do it.
C40 cities are committed to using an inclusive, science-based and collaborative approach to cut their fair share of emissions in half by 2030.
C40 is a G3P network pursuing Agenda 21 and the commensurate Agenda 2030 sustainable debt slavery. Which is why it stresses that fulfilling its "mission" will only be possible if cities like London attract "external finance" and are active in "building stronger relationships with key finance institutions."
Apparently, cities that intend to halve all emissions by 2030, such as London, need to borrow immense sums of money. The shortfall in “sustainable” investment across C40 cities is reportedly somewhere in the region of “$2-3 trillion per year until 2030.” Thankfully, philanthropic foundations and other G3P “partners,” such as the Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund, are advising mayors like Sadiq Khan which investors they should borrow the money from and what repayment terms they should accept.
Sadiq Khan alleges that his ULEZ scheme is all about improving public health by cleaning the air in London. He has consistently alleged that around 4000 people die prematurely in London every year "because of long-term exposure to air pollution." This is a complete fabrication.
Khan's claim is based upon a computer "model" made up by Imperial College London (ICL) after it received funding from Khan's office to do so. Like most computer models, especially ICL's, it is next to meaningless.
When an FOI request was made to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) requesting data on actual deaths caused by "poor air quality," the ONS replied:
One death in England and Wales in the period 2001 to 2021 had exposure to air pollution [. . .] recorded on the death certificate.
Bluntly the model, and Khan's claims, are nonsense. ICL used the statistical trick of equating an estimated "61,800 to 70,200 life years lost" to "between 3,600 to 4,100 deaths" annually. Hence Khan's preposterous assertion.
ICL's equivalency calculation was based upon the mathematical conversion tables provided by the UK government's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP). COMEAP "monetises" lives to try to put a "price" on premature mortality.
This is a notoriously inept way to express population mortality risks. As pointed out by the Society of Risk Analysis in the 2020 publication of Risk Analysis vol 4:
Mortality effects of exposure to air pollution and other environmental hazards are often described by the estimated number of “premature” or “attributable” deaths [. . .]. These terms can be misleading because the number of deaths advanced by exposure cannot be determined from mortality data alone, whether from epidemiology or randomized trials (it is not statistically identified). [. . .] Total life years lost in a population due to exposure can be estimated but cannot be disaggregated by age or cause of death.
That is to say, there is no demonstrable causal link between ICL's estimates of "life years lost" and actual cause of death. While ICL expressed this calculation as annual numbers of deaths, it could also be expressed as Londoners "losing an average of 2.5 to 2.8 days of life expectancy each year."
Even this is highly speculative, and almost impossible to substantiate. Nor is it particularly scary, so Khan and his team went with the 4000 deaths disinformation instead.
Irrespective if Sadiq Khan's wild claims, there are other problems with ICL's model. It assumes that London air quality is a significant causal factor for mortality and that ULEZ can somehow improve the situation. This doesn't appear to be true either.
While Sadiq Khan's office is happy to include the 4000 deaths flimflam in its public statements, it has been less than enthusiastic about promoting ICL's Centre for Transport Studies' empirical measurements of air quality and subsequent paper on ULEZ effectiveness:
We observe that the ULEZ caused only small improvements in air quality in the context of a longer-term downward trend in London's air pollution levels. [. . .] This study implies that the ULEZ on its own is not an effective strategy in the sense that the marginal causal effects were small.
Concerned citizens took it upon themselves to verify ICL's measurements, finding that the streets of Greater London's boroughs do not have poor air quality. The same cannot be said for London public transport, especially the underground, where air quality does present a potential health risk.
Khan's current Transport Strategy , in keeping with "sustainable development," focuses in part upon "a shift from private car to public transport." His pretensions about concern for public health are nauseating.
Preferring highly questionable scary computer models to empirical science, claiming illegitimate justification for his policies which are actually the continuation of a global agenda, Khan's response to the real science was swift. He apparently dispatched Shirley Rodrigues, the London Mayor’s deputy for environment and energy, to apply pressure to the director of ICL’s Environmental Research Group, Prof Mark Kelly.
Rodrigues reportedly told Kelly that Khan's office was adamant that ULEZ would "dramatically reduce air pollution," regardless of the empirical measurements that proved otherwise. Having given ICL more than £800,000 since 2021, the funding threat from Khan's office was well made.
According to the Telegraph, Prof. Kelly replied to Rodrigues that he was "pursuing options internally to offset" the inconvenient science. This is presumably the "science-based and collaborative approach" that Khan holds dear as chair of C40.
We know we have much more to do to make our cities more resilient to the impacts of climate change. We are committed to [. . .] build the resilient protections needed in London [. . .]. We are also committed to cutting carbon emissions in our cities to prevent our climate from becoming more unstable and dangerous. [. . .] We need 50% of all climate finance to be allocated to adaptation projects and for a significant part of the funding to be directed through cities, currently, this stands at just 9%.
When he was appointed to the chair of C40, the organisation proudly reported that Sadiq Khan was "one of the first leaders in the world to declare a climate emergency." Khan is a solicitor by trade, so his credibility as someone empowered to lead the world in declaring a climate catastrophe is questionable.
Under Khan's leadership C40 has continued its pilot of the 15 Minute City concept. As a result of the pseudopandemic, the C40 network embarked upon it plans for what it called a "green and just recovery." Professing that it would take bold steps to deliver "an equitable and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic" the C40 group of mayors, including Sadiq Khan, promised to create:
15 minute cities’ where all residents of the city are able to meet most of their needs within a short walk or bicycle ride from their homes.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) highlights the possible benefits of 15 Minute Cities, where everything you supposedly need is within a 15 minute walk from your home. However, we might be wise to harbour some doubts.
The Royal Town Planning Institute explained that "agglomeration" has been dominant in urban planning, across the globe, for decades. This raises some important questions about the proposed 15 minute cities that Khan supports:
Agglomeration suggests that economic activity (read: jobs) clusters into cities, which become larger and larger and more productive as they grow. While this has led to much greater urban living in recent years, average commutes have continued to increase over the past decade. [. . .] How much will Covid-19, and the work of planners operating under the banner of the 15 minute city really change this economic reality [. . .]?
There is a massive wealth disparity between London boroughs. Are we really supposed to believe that the 15 minute city centred in Dagenham is going to be anything like the 15 minute city centred in Kensington?
With wealth inequality comes health and social inequality. What evidence is there that 15 minute cities in a large conurbation like Greater London will be anything other than ghettos, separating and excluding the disadvantaged from city life, leaving the most privileged in protected areas?
UK life expectancy has recently been downgraded across the country. A situation that certainly won't improve if we are forced to use public transport and breath air with dangerous levels of pollutants.
The mayor’s office's claim that London has "toxic air" is misleading propaganda. Sadiq Khan is spreading disinformation that will ultimately erode Londoners health. His sole focus appears to be on advancing C40’s and the G3P's agenda.
In an example of rank hypocrisy and electioneering, the unelected Conservative UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has targeted Khan's ULEZ scheme as part what he and his party strategists call "Labour's war on the motorists." It was the Conservative government which, in 2020, added to its previous "net zero" policy announcement by committing to "phase-out of petrol and diesel cars" and ending "the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030."
The notion, forwarded by the current Conservative government, that it is somehow opposed to the global "sustainable development" agenda is another deception. The current average price of an Electric Vehicle (EV) in the UK is £50,000. Whether excluded by ULEZ charges or simply priced out of owning a vehicle, the effect is the same. The poorest are being pushed off the roads in the name of "sustainable development" by all political parties.
While Khan's fearmongering is totally unjustified that doesn't imply that pollution is not a problem. Just not the problem he has defined.
We do need to reduce pollution, both for the sake of our own health and also to protect the environment. For example, plastic pollution in the oceans is an obvious cause for concern.
But politicians and the so-called representative democratic system is of no use to us if we are serious about tackling these important issues. As amply demonstrated by Sadiq Khan, politicians in office do not represent our interests.
We certainly need political change but that change is almost impossible to achieve through the ballot box. Primarily because the politicians we elect don't make "the big decisions."
As pointed out in the excellent article by Deborra Anne Low, real political change is more likely if we turn our backs on the ballot box:
South Africa endured many years of violence under the Apartheid regime. Many people and countries worldwide boycotted Apartheid, but the US government insisted on supporting [. . .] the legitimate government of South Africa. Then the Apartheid regime held another election. No more than 7% of South Africans voted. Suddenly everything changed. No longer could the US or anyone else say that the Apartheid regime had the consent of the governed. [. .. ] In Cuba, when Fidel Castro’s small, ragged, tired band was in the mountains, the dictator Batista held an election (at the suggestion of the US, by the way). Only 10% of the population voted. Realizing that he had lost the support of 90% of the country, Batista fled. Castro then, knowing that he had the support of 90% of the country, proceeded to bring about a true revolution. [. . .] In Haiti, when the US and US-sponsored regimes removed the most popular party from the ballot, in many places only 3% voted [. . .] nobody familiar with the situation thought that the US-backed Haitian government had the consent of the governed or was legitimate.
Boycotting elections alone will not oust the oligarchy, but it is the only proven non-violent way to delegitimize a government.
The choice seems pretty stark. We can carry on traipsing dutifully to the voting booths and give our mark to legitimise autocratic power. In doing so we accept whatever our elected leaders throw at us and concede that there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Or we can refuse to support the venal system that treats us like cattle to be farmed. We can reject the claimed political legitimacy of corrupt rulers. We can loudly declare that we will no longer comply.
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