Holly Smith and Jenny Jones on why the government needs to urgently tackle air pollution.
Fri 16 Mar 2018 16.36 GMT
The government needs to step up and provide clear messaging and leadership on charging clean air zones (Car industry should pay for UK’s toxic air, inquiry says, 15 March). About 40,000 premature deaths a year are attributable to air pollution; inaction simply cannot continue. The government’s own evidence identifies charging clean air zones as the most effective way to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide in the shortest time possible. Despite this, they continue to be presented as a last resort, with little support given to the local authorities that are left to decide whether to implement them. The government should mandate charging clean air zones in areas where legal limits of air pollution are being broken.
Reducing all vehicular traffic in towns and cities is the best way to protect people’s health from the harmful effects of air pollution. Electric vehicles still release fine particulate matter, caused by the wear and tear of tyres and brake pads, which gets into our respiratory system and contributes to early death. Investing revenue from clean air zones in safe walking routes, cycling infrastructure and public transport is the best way to make the UK’s air breathable for us all.
Policy coordinator, Living Streets
Four parliamentary committees have come together to push for a new Clean Air Act. Geraint Davies MP in the Commons and myself in the Lords are bringing forward draft bills to lay out what the government needs to do. We need clean air to be a human right and with Brexit happening in the next two years, we need to urgently create an independent, environmental enforcement agency. I believe that we need a citizens’ commission to help people take the government and corporations to court if they fail in their responsibilities to public health and the environment. The loss of European commission oversight with Brexit is a threat to existing environmental protections and an opportunity to create something stronger in its place.
Green party, House of Lords