Campaigners aren’t impressed by the governments’ new Clean Air Strategy
They say it's not going far enough, or giving councils the money they need to carry it out.
The government is making a big announcement today about a new 'Clean Air Strategy'. The aim is to halve the number of people living in areas where air pollution is higher than EU health guidelines (we haven't Brexited just yet y'all). Problem is, Caroline Lucas (head of the Greens) says its about as effective as "using a water pistol on a wildfire".
What it means: Air pollution is the fourth biggest public health hazard in the UK, costing the country about £20bn a year. This plan would cut that cost by £1bn a year by 2020, and £2bn after that... so it's progress, but pretty slow. (Though one cool thing is that each council is going to get a tool that will help them measure the economic cost of air pollution to their area. Shut up, we think that's cool.)
It involves a lot of measures: cracking down on wet wood and coal burning in homes, reducing ammonia emissions (aka cow poop) in farms, reducing dust from vehicle tyres and brakes.
But campaigners say it's not enough. Too much responsibility is being put on local councils to carry out the changes, who can't necessarily afford the management costs. Plus, there's nothing in this strategy about reducing private car use – like setting up 'Clean Air Zones' where you get charged for driving in densely populated areas, for example.
The UK's actually been taken to court by the EU recently for failing to comply with emissions controls, so it's probably a good idea to get this right so as not to get into even more trouble.