The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has suggested that London may appeal a European Union fine for exceeding NOx limits because of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, to show how it will meet pollution targets.

In April, the Government was told it has to submit new air quality plans to the European Commission by the end of the year.

The plans will need to include drastic action to cut nitrogen dioxide levels, which many experts blame on diesel vehicles.

In July 2014, the Government’s projections found that just five of 43 cities, towns and zones in the UK would be compliant by 2015, 15 by 2020, 38 by 2025 and 40 by 2030 – long after the deadline of 2010.

The areas that wouldn’t make it by 2030 were the urban areas of Greater London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire, and these would be likely to suffer the earliest or most severe measures to cut pollution.

Johnson blamed the EU’s Euro 4 and Euro 5 emissions testing standard – which came into force from 2005 – 2009 – for the high level of NOx emissions in London.

“Because of the failure of the EU’s Euro 4 and Euro 5 standards, we are in the position where we have these exceedances, and then they have the audacity to propose a fine on us because of the defectiveness of their standards,” he told a Mayor’s Question Time panel in London.

The mayor also pondered whether he could impose any fines on the vehicle giant.

“How legally or morally I could enforce a fine on Volkswagen I do not know, but it is certainly worth exploring,” he said. “It might be better to try and shame or guilt them out in some way to pay for measures to improve clean air in London such as a VW cycling scheme to get people out of diesels.”

Johnson also revealed that he was unsure how many ‘defeat devices’ are present on London’s roads, including within Greater London Authority’s fleet.