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Graphic showing the amount of pollution one car can make in a minute when idling

Engines off for every stop

Did you know that you can play your part in improving local air quality and fighting the climate crisis simply by switching off your engine for quick stops in the car?

Even a small vehicle running on petrol, while idling, emits an average of more than 19 grams of CO2 a minute. It all adds up to a polluting cocktail filling the air we breathe. For example, in one day, if half of all cars in London idled at a set of traffic lights for just one minute, nearly 30,000 kg of CO2 would be released – that is a weight of 10 HGV lorries or 30 African elephants.

That is why Ealing Council is backing the ongoing ‘Engines off for every stop’ campaign and joining boroughs across London in tackling engine idling as a source of avoidable air pollution.

The aim is to encourage and support drivers to cut down the time they spend with their engines running whilst stationary. With this simple step we can improve local air quality and create a healthier and more environmentally friendly place to live.

Switching off is the easiest way to minimise unnecessary pollution and every driver can play a role. This simple action prevents harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) building up on local streets. In the long term it could help reduce the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular health conditions in both children and adults across the borough.

Adapting council vehicles for a greener future

The council is also ensuring that vehicles used to deliver services across the borough are also switching off engines for quick stops wherever possible. Greener Ealing, which provides street and waste services for the borough, has invested in equipment to help identify and reduce idling and unnecessary emissions from its vehicles.

Through working with its drivers to spread the message, it and managed to cut engine idling at its depot by half in the last six months.

The council is also working towards replacing all 62 of its current fleet with electric vehicles as part of its climate action strategy, which is working to ensure the borough achieves ‘net zero’ for carbon emissions by 2030.

Small steps towards better air quality

Councillor Deirdre Costigan, deputy leader and cabinet member for climate action said: “Engines off for every stop is a campaign that spreads the word on the positive changes drivers can make as we work together to improve air quality and improve our local environment.

“Air pollution contributes to the early deaths of almost 9,500 Londoners every single year and very sadly that includes more than 380 here in Ealing.

“Switching your engine off even for one minute if you are waiting in traffic or picking someone up can have a significant effect in cutting the harmful gases from your exhaust that end in up in the air around us.

“This small step can help us achieve better air quality and improve the health of residents of all ages – not to mention help in the fight against climate crisis.”

Supporting the switch to electric and active travel

Residents are being supported by the council to make short local journeys by active travel (walking and cycling) instead of driving.  It is good for your health, good for your wallet and good for the environment too.

You can keep up to date with what the council is doing to support active travel and fight the climate crisis here.

The council is continuing to add electric vehicle charging points across the borough to help to improve local air quality, encourage active travel and help people make the switch from more polluting cars. This number is set to hit the 300 mark by the end of 2021 – all with the aim of giving residents easier access to a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way of getting around.

With far lower running costs than traditional cars, exemption from the congestion charge and ultra-low emission zone schemes, as well as no road tax fees, switching to an electric vehicle could be a great for your bank balance as well as the planet.

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