Air pollution is a major problem in many of our towns and cities, and transport is the main contributor. We should all be able to walk, cycle and play outside without our health being damaged by traffic fumes.
Tens of thousands of deaths are attributable to air pollution each year. Most towns and cities in the UK are breaking EU limits on air pollution. But with public awareness and political interest higher than at any time since the 1950s, there is the opportunity for concerted national and local action to reduce pollution - and tackle congestion and carbon emissions to boot.
Together with Healthy Air Campaign partners we are calling for:
- A legally binding commitment to meet World Health Organisation guideline levels for air pollution by 2030
- A duty that requires all local authorities and public bodies such as Highways England to factor air pollution into all their decision-making
- A national Healthy Air Plan that includes concrete measures to protect children and older people, people with chronic illnesses, and those who suffer the highest exposure including outdoor and transport workers
- A right to clean air in the UK: as we leave the EU, people's current right to breathe clean air should be given clear statutory footing within domestic law
- Better monitoring and reporting of air pollution and its impacts.
With transport the main contributor to poor air quality, the Government should bring in a national network of Clean Air Zones where polluting vehicles are discouraged, as well as investing in public transport, walking and cycling to give people alternatives to driving. A ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will come into force from 2040, but we want to see this brought forward to 2030 in order to clean up air more rapidly as well as helping the UK to meet net zero carbon emission targets.
Buses are already a sustainable choice in that they greatly reduce car traffic - but buses themselves must be made less polluting. Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to set a deadline of 2025 for all new buses to be electric or hydrogen powered. To support this, it should agree a bus manufacturing sector deal to make the UK a world leader in zero emission buses. Finally, rail mustn't be forgotten: a rolling programme of electrification, and replacement of diesel trains with battery or hydrogen models would contribute to healthier air and reduce carbon emissions.