Kensington & ChelseaNews

Study finds richest in ‘SUV capital of Britain’ buying cars with more emissions

A new study has found that SUV’s are dominating car sales in one of the capital’s richest boroughs in far greater numbers than electric vehicles (EV).

The study by the climate campaign group, Possible, shows that one in three new cars bought by residents in Kensington and Chelsea are large SUVs.

SUVs are the second largest source of increasing emissions worldwide after power generation and have 20 per cent higher CO2 emissions than conventional cars, according to the charity.

The new analysis of residents’ parking permit data, obtained from the council with a Freedom of Information request, shows that the heaviest polluting SUVs are most popular in Belgravia – considered the borough’s wealthiest area – and least popular in more socio-economically deprived postcodes in the north of borough, where Grenfell Tower is located.

The report has called for a distinction between drivers being charged based on greenhouse gas emissions rather than for emissions with direct public health effects, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx). 

Possible argue that cars that emit more NOx are almost always older, and disproportionately used by less wealthy people.

In contrast, the report argued, high greenhouse emissions have been caused by richer people buying huge SUVs – at a price that showed they could afford an electric car.

Kensington and Chelsea have recently introduced emissions based parking charges.

But a spokeswoman from Possible said: “Every gram of carbon is charged at the same price – £1 – which is clearly not a high enough level to deter wealthy residents from buying heavily polluting cars.”

Possible argues that carbon should be priced higher above a certain threshold, similar to the way income tax increases for high earners. 

Leo Murray, co-director of climate charity Possible, said: “Kensington and Chelsea has been crowned the SUV capital of Britain, and our new analysis shows that Belgravia is the dirty jewel in that high-pollution crown.  

“It should not be controversial to target higher charges at fossil-fuel-hungry vehicles that are nearly three times as damaging to the climate as the average new car, and overwhelmingly owned by those on the highest incomes.”

Councillor Cem Kemahli, lead member for planning and public realm, at Kensington and Chelsea council, said: “We believe in allowing people to make their own choices and we want quality transport options, whether that’s driving, walking, cycling or taking public transport.

“Cars are here to stay and it’s not for authorities to meddle in people’s lives by telling them what to buy or not buy.

“People are more likely to make greener choices when we make it easier for them to do so, which is why we offer cheaper tariffs for electric vehicles in our visitor bays and charges for our resident permits are based on CO2 emissions of the vehicle. The more polluting, the higher the price.

 “With new pedestrian crossings, the fewest potholes in the UK, two new cycle lanes, and plenty of rental e-bike parking we are continually improving our residents provision for all forms of transport.”

(Picture: Pexels/Dom-j)

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