Saturday, 5 May 2018

Air pollution: urgent action needed

This week, the WHO revealed the most polluted places on the planet:
Deadly particles: The worldwide problem of air pollution - Geographical

The headlines have pointed to the 14 out of 15 worst cities which are all in India:
kiiitv.com | The Taj Mahal is turning green because of pollution
India cities dominate world air pollution list - BBC News

However, the UK is not doing that brilliantly:
Leicester named one of the most polluted places in UK by the World Health Organisation - Leicester Mercury
UK's most polluted towns and cities revealed - BBC News
Air pollution: 50 UK towns and cities at risk, says World Health Organisation | UK | News | Express.co.uk

The University of Exeter has been at the forefront of a lot of the research:

“Air pollution is much more widespread than we thought. I had expected to see high levels in London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool – but I was surprised so see that it is filling in the gaps between the big cities as well,” said Professor Gavin Shaddick, of the University of Exeter.

Revealed: The majority of people in the UK live in areas of 'unsafe' air pollution - i news 

Nine out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air, new data shows
International team, led by Professor Gavin Shaddick of the University of Exeter produce new estimates of global air quality.

New data released today (May 1st 2018) by the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that air pollution levels are dangerously high in many parts of the world.
Most significantly, updated estimates reveal an alarming toll of seven million deaths every year can be associated with exposure to outdoor and household air pollution.
Professor Gavin Shaddick, from the University of Exeter, led the international team that produced the new estimates of global air quality.
Professor Shaddick said: “Air pollution presents a major risk to health worldwide. One of the key drivers of adverse health effects is fine particulate matter ambient pollution, or PM2.5, which are very small particles that that less than 2.5 microns in diameter. They can effect both our respiratory and cardio-vascular systems and are associated with very serious diseases including stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections.” 

Featured news - Nine out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air, new data shows - University of Exeter

The larger context is that UK is falling way behind its targets to cut air pollution:
Futures Forum: UK government again told to act on air pollution
Futures Forum: "The UK government is “flouting” its duty to protect the lives and health of its citizens from illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution."

And it is still very reluctant to act - unless it's against campaigners:

Documents show more than half a million pounds has been spent on failed court actions against clean air campaigners in less than 12 months
“Its decision to fight ClientEarth in court rather than cleaning up our air is baffling, and it is now eight years late to meet legal pollution limits,” said the group’s chief executive, James Thornton. “The government’s continued failure to act on air pollution damages people’s health and puts lives at risk across the UK. It’s time to quit these costly delays and start cleaning up our air.”

Air pollution: UK government's failed legal battles cost taxpayers £500,000 | Environment | The Guardian

Whilst the government is committed to banning diesel vehicles, this is many, many moons away:
Futures Forum: How to deal with air pollution: ban all diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040 >>> "The writing is on the wall for gasoline-powered cars."

Meanwhile, the Environment Secretary is pushing to halt sales of hybrid cars - which emit more pollution than fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, because they are still overwhelmingly reliant on burning oil:

The government's climate change targets might also help - but, again, years into the future:

There are plenty of other things which could be done meanwhile - as the Welsh are showing:
Speed limits on five major roads to tackle air pollution - BBC News
Cardiff Council considers clean air zone to improve air quality | Environment News
Cardiff outlines low emission transport plan - Air Quality News

Meanwhile, in Exeter:
Futures Forum: Improving Exeter's air quality and public transport through congestion-charging 

Exeter reacts to sky-rocketing cost of bus travel for children - as more than 1k sign petition against move
A petition against the fare hike has been signed by more than 1,000 people"So much for wanting to reduce pollution and increase use of buses during peak times including the school run. Ridiculous!"

Exeter reacts to sky-rocketing cost of bus travel for children - as more than 1k sign petition against move - Devon Live 

New tests reveal MORE areas of Exeter with high or illegal air pollution
Concerns were raised by residents living in parts of the city where congestion is a problem

Analysis of air quality carried out by Exeter Green Party has revealed additional areas of Exeter experiencing high or illegal levels of air pollution.
The Green Party commissioned nitrogen dioxide monitoring across Exeter during January at sites not currently measured by the City Council’s own tests. Most of the sites were identified by residents concerned by the risk of air pollution in the area.

New tests reveal MORE areas of Exeter with high or illegal air pollution - Devon Live

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