By Maximilian Clarke

London’s Mayor Boris Johnson has launched new campaign encouraging Londoners to turn off their engines when their vehicle is stationary for more than a minute.

It is part of a new package of measures to improve air quality, cut harmful pollution and clean up the city ahead of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Turning off engines when stationary for more than a minute creates a host of positive benefits by reducing pollution and using less petrol to save people money," comments Mayor Boris. "This small individual step can collectively make a massive difference and help improve our great city.”

Delivered by Transport for London , the new no engine idling campaign urges drivers of all vehicles to make a small change and switch off their engines when they are parked or when picking up and dropping off people or goods, reducing the amount of unnecessary and harmful exhaust fumes emitted. It also highlights the health benefits of reducing pollution levels to both prevent and alleviate illnesses such as asthma, heart and lung conditions. Leading health and transport organisations such as Asthma UK, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, and the Freight Transport Association have voiced their support for the campaign.

Turning off an engine and restarting it after a minute or longer causes less pollution than keeping the engine idling and uses less fuel. If all drivers in central London switched off their engines, rather than idling unnecessarily, for one minute each day this could reduce PM10 emissions annually (tiny airborne particles generated principally by road transport) by the emissions equivalent to a medium sized diesel car travelling 2.5 million kilometres, or making three return trips to the moon. The campaign is aimed at all drivers including cars, buses, coaches and taxis. For example, black cabs account for around a quarter of PM10 emissions in central London with up to 15 per cent of that estimated to be as a result of taxi drivers leaving their engines idling when stationary.

Research commissioned by the Mayor's office has suggested that poor air quality contributes to an equivalent of around 4,300 premature deaths in London in a year, with many people, especially children and older people, having their quality of life adversely impacted by it. Londoners also identify improving air quality as one of their environmental priorities. Implementing the measures in the Mayor's strategy such as this new campaign is expected to reduce PM10 emissions in central London by about a third by 2015, compared to 2008 levels.

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