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Saturday, 16 February

Clean Air Strategy - Gove Helps You Breath More Easily

Clean Air Strategy 2018

Monday 14 saw Environment Secretary Michael Gove launch the Government's new Clean Air Strategy - setting a long-term target to reduce people’s exposure to particulate matter which the World Health Organization has identified as the most damaging to health.

To inform development of this new target, the government will publish evidence early this year on what action would be needed to meet WHO guidelines.

Air pollution is one of the biggest threats to public health in the UK - behind only cancer, obesity and heart disease - the measures set out in the Clean Air Strategy will cut the costs of air pollution to society by £1.7 billion every year by 2020, rising to £5.3 billion every year from 2030.

This comes on top of a commitment to halve the number of people living in areas breaching WHO guidelines on PM by 2025.

 

Beating the EU

The UK is the first major economy to adopt air quality goals based on WHO recommendations, going far beyond EU requirements.

Launching the Clean Air Strategy, Gove said: "The evidence is clear. While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life.

"The strategy includes new targets, new powers for local government and confirms that a forthcoming Environment Bill will include new primary legislation on air quality."

 

Not just cars

Gove continued: "While air pollution may conjure images of traffic jams and exhaust fumes, transport is only one part of the story. The new strategy sets out the important role all of us. All sectors of work and society can play a role in reducing emissions and cleaning up our air to protect our health.

"With a commitment to end the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040, the UK is going further than almost every other European nation in tackling emissions from cars. But air pollution does not just come from transport and the Clean Air Strategy sets out a programme of work across government, industry and society to reduce emissions coming from a wide range of sources."

 

The new strategy will:

  • Introduce new legislation to prohibit the sale of the most polluting fuels.
  • Ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022 (wood burners are now a major contributor to particulate matter in the air).
  • Continue to explore giving local authorities powers to increase the rate of upgrades of inefficient and polluting heating appliances.
  • Bring existing smoke control legislation up to date and make it easier to enforce.

 

Keep breathing for longer

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Air pollution is a health issue - it harms the health of the nation. For each of us, our health is unavoidably shaped by the environment we live in. Environmental factors determine around 30% of our healthy life expectancy. Air pollution poses the single greatest environmental threat to human health.

"Breathing dirty air is associated with a host of health problems, from asthma to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and all too often it is the most vulnerable – children, older people and those from poorer backgrounds – who are hit hardest. In short: clean air helps you live longer.

"No-one can tackle air pollution alone so it is a duty of government to act for us all. We are determined to clean up our environment and are taking the lead with this Clean Air Strategy. We have made strides forward over the past few years and the action we are taking will save lives and improve the health of the nation – both for those of us here today and for generations to come."

 

WHO

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said: "Air pollution kills 7 million people globally every year, making it one of the largest and most urgent threats to global health of our time,

"I applaud the United Kingdom’s Clean Air Strategy, which will not only help to protect the health of millions of people but is also an example for the rest of the world to follow."

 

Act

The Government will shortly bring forward an Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill which will include primary legislation on air quality, last updated in the Clean Air Act of 1993.

Picture: The Government has released a 109 page Clean Air Strategy.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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