As we celebrate National Clean Air Day I firmly believe that far more needs to be done to ensure that access to clean air is a fundamental human right.
Levels of air pollution in the UK are among the highest in Europe, and are in the top 20 worst countries globally.
This is completely unacceptable and far more needs to be done to ensure that people have access to clean air.
We may no longer have the smog-filled scenes of decades ago in the UK, but pollution remains a killer, and is the cause of seven million deaths globally every year as well as an underlying factor of many illnesses, including childhood leukemia, cancer, infertility, and Alzheimer’s.
The World Health Organization cites air pollution as the largest environmental health risk we face today and, in 2020, the world’s first official death by air pollution was recorded by a coroner in London.
With few mechanisms in place to regularly assess air pollution, both in terms of monitoring and legislation, corporations are free to pump out toxic fumes into our communities, as we saw most shockingly with the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015.
Encouragingly, a proposed Clean Air Act was recently drawn first in the Lords’ ballot for Private Member’s Bills, which means that it stands a good chance of passing through all three stages in the Lords, before moving into the Commons.
Enshrining this Act in legislation would be a welcome first step to clamping down on pollution and improving the health outcomes of everyone right across the UK.