A cross-party committee of MPs says UK air pollution is a 'public health emergency'. The MPs report is deeply critical of overall government efforts: “Despite mounting evidence of the costly health and environmental impacts of air pollution, we see little evidence of a cohesive cross-government plan.”
The government’s own data shows air pollution causes 40,000-50,000 early deaths a year. Dozens of cities currently suffer illegal levels of air pollution.
Vehicle exhausts are a major cause of air pollution and the Guardian revealed that 97% of all modern diesel cars emit more toxic NOx pollution than the official limit when driven on the road. A less comprehensive government investigation came to a similar conclusions. EU regulations still allow new vehicles to emit double the official limit until 2021 and 50% more afterwards.
Alan Andrews, a lawyer at ClientEarth explained, “It’s time for the government to act in the interests of our health. Instead, ministers are championing weak emissions standards for cars and trying to get major air pollutants from agriculture dropped from European laws.” ClientEarth previously called the government’s latest plan “an insult to those being made sick and dying from air pollution” It previously defeated the government in the supreme court in 2015 and now say they are mounting a new legal challenge.
Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said: “Dirty air is already the nation’s biggest killer after smoking. The solutions are out there…”