The independent London newspaper

If the politicians were really bothered about air pollution, this is what they could do

27 October, 2017

• THE main reason we have city centre emissions hotspots is government’s own anti-car policies.

Amid all the hype the media have overlooked a colossal paradox – Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster, which boast among the highest (and rising) average life expectancy, and average income, figures in the UK also have among the worst measured urban air pollution statistics.

The primary determinants of life expectancy in the UK remain income and consequent lifestyle choices.

Given that UK urban air pollution has declined dramatically (and average life expectancies have steadily risen) year-on-year since the Clean Air Acts; and will continue to do so with continuing advances in technology, isn’t it time the environmental lobby and cynical politicians laid off road users and focused their attention elsewhere?

A recent BBC Science article reported that in central London, only five per cent of NOx comes from private diesel cars. Trucks, taxis and public transport represent an even greater proportion.

Public transport hubs, for example, railway and bus stations are also major contributors. But 38 per cent originated from commercial and domestic heating systems.

If politicians were really committed to improving urban air quality, they would immediately:

• Reverse the traffic lane-subtraction, public transport and cycle prioritisation policies that have brought traffic speeds in our major cities down to a staccato mix of stationary and walking pace progress, and hit air quality.

• Target the worst transport sector polluters – mainly public transport and delivery vehicles.

• Persuade heating and transport fuel manufacturers to improve their refining processes.

• If the future is electric, as claimed, press the government to facilitate and fund the development of practical electric vehicles.

The reality is that government is only really committed to squeezing every last drop of tax revenue from road users by fair means or, more usually, foul.



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