Curbs on non-essential journeys are leading to a reduction in harmful emissions
Air quality in cities across the UK is improving due to people staying at home and avoiding non-essential journeys, resulting in a reduction in emissions.
Besides people not driving their own cars, less commercial vehicle traffic and many workplaces shutting down are among factors helping improve the atmosphere.
Similar findings have been observed in other countries throughout Europe that have implemented lockdowns to try and contain the coronavirus pandemic.
NCAS director of science, Professor Ally Lewis, said: “If you look at traffic volumes, they’re still going down. And so we probably haven’t reached the bottom yet.
“A few days ago, we were talking about journeys by car going down by about a third, and now it’s nearly a 50-60 per cent reduction.
“So, it’s possible if transport keeps declining, the signal we detect could get even larger.”
NCAS compared average air pollution levels over the past five years in 10 UK cities – Birmingham, Belfast, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and York – with those from 15 February to 24 March.
Each city experienced a fall in levels of PM2.5, while all cities saw a reduction in levels of NO2 other than Belfast and York – although Professor Lewis said that may be due to those two cities having fewer monitoring stations.
“In London, we have a lot of data we can aggregate together,” he said. “In some of the smaller cities and towns, there may be only one monitor and the data can get a little noisy.
“But when you see a consistent picture across multiple cities at multiple monitoring sites then you do know that something real is happening.”
With a huge reduction in airline flights as a result of travel restrictions also contributing to cleaner air, environmental campaigners have said that one consequence of the coronavirus pandemic is highlighting how changing the way we move around can have dramatic consequences for climate change.
Professor Lewis acknowledged that the current situation gave a glimpse of what might be possible in the future.
Air quality improves in UK cities as people leave cars at home | road.cc
Curbs on non-essential journeys are leading to a reduction in harmful emissions Air quality in cities across the UK is improving due to people staying at home and avoiding non-essential journeys, resulting in a reduction in emissions. Besides people not driving their own cars, less commercial vehicle traffic and many workplaces shutting down are among… [Read More]