Dr Maria Neira, director of environment, climate change and health at WHO.
WHO’s new global air quality guidelines remind us that much of what we think of as environmental policy is actually health policy. They pull health back into the heart of discussions on air quality and prompt the question, “how much risk of damage to the electorate’s health from air pollution are we willing to live with, given what we now know?”
Nyeleti Brauer-Maxaeia, co-founder of Choked Up
For a young person, living in an area with extremely high air pollution that far exceeds World Health Organization guidelines can feel like an inescapable burden. It is the prospect that you have little control over the air you breathe. I mean, you can’t just opt in or out of breathing.
This post is by Oliver Lord, head of policy and campaigns for Environmental Defense Fund Europe.
The pandemic has revealed the consequences of health inequity. We must learn from this by enabling everyone to use greener transport and ensuring we all have clean air to breathe, regardless of who we are and where we live.
This post is by Steve Arnold, head of the clean air zone at Birmingham City Council.
Everybody, regardless of age, geographic location or personal wealth, has a right to breathe clean air. It is a basic, fundamental entitlement and one that is vital to our survival. Yet every year, up to 36,000 people across the UK die from conditions linked to poor air quality, including up to 1,000 people in Birmingham alone.
This post is by Greg Archer, UK director of Transport & Environment
The announcement of when the UK should phase out the sale of new cars with engines is imminent and provoking fierce debate. Back in February, the government proposed that sales of new cars and vans with engines should end within 15 years at the latest. The maths was simple: to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, all vehicles with engines need to be off the road by then so the last new car with an engine should be sold by the early 2030s.
The right of UK citizens to breathe clean air is routinely violated. In 2018, air pollution in London exceeded the legal limit for the entire year before the end of January. Across the country, toxic air is linked to 40,000 premature deaths each year. And this is not a recent phenomenon. The air in London and most urban areas in the UK has been illegally polluted since 2010.
Britain’s automotive industry faces a moment of reckoning. Brexit threatens to disrupt its highly sophisticated ‘just in time’ operations while pressure to cut air pollution and go electric risks stranding investment in factories designed for the fossil fuel age. Read more
This post is by Greg Archer, director, clean vehicles at Transport & Environment.
After being forced to announce its controversial plans to tackle air pollution, ministers have been quick to blame the previous government for the mess caused by encouraging diesel car sales. But ministers have repeatedly refused to point the finger, or act against the true culprit, the car industry, that has for years sold cars that pass lab tests but often produce ten times or more pollution on the road. As a result, they have contributed to the toxic air that is killing up to 40,000 people a year in the UK. Read more
This post is by Helen Hayes MP for Dulwich and West Norwood.
It’s estimated that toxic air pollution from diesel vehicles in London is responsible for over 9,000 premature deaths a year, and it disproportionately affects school children and the most vulnerable members of our communities. Brixton Road, in my constituency, exceeded its annual air pollution limit just five days into 2017. The Mayor of London has made the battle against this invisible killer a top priority for his term and has succeeded in getting it onto both the national and local political agendas. Read more
John Steinbeck described the California I grew up in as ‘a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.’ The golden state has always loomed large in the imagination but, in my early years, much of the stink and quality of light was literal: my dad, a Los Angeles native, used to joke that he didn’t trust air he couldn’t see. That’s how bad the air pollution was.