In Brief

UK air pollution is a ‘national health emergency’, MPs warn

Report finds that air pollution causes 40,000 early deaths a year

The UK Government is failing to tackle illegal levels of pollution that cause some 40,000 premature deaths and cost the economy £20bn each year, according to a “highly damning” report published today.

The 49 cross-party MPs who participated in the inquiry warn that air pollution is a “national health emergency”, adding: “It is unacceptable that successive governments have failed to protect the public from poisonous air. A step change in Government policy is now needed to address this.” 

This “unprecedented” joint inquiry by four parliamentary select committees found that the Government’s approach to reducing air pollution amounted to little more than “box-ticking”, The Independent reports.

The MPs are calling for measures to force carmakers to contribute to a clean air fund, and have criticised plans to ban the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 as “lacking sufficient ambition”.

Paris has said it will ban both petrol and diesel cars by 2030, while Rome has outlined plans to stop diesel cars from entering the city centre by 2024.

The UK authorities have “consistently been called out” by judges throughout Britain and Europe, as well as the United Nations for “repeatedly breaking domestic and international law on acceptable pollution levels”, says Bloomberg.

Responding to the publication of the inquiry findings, a Downing Street spokesperson said that “ending the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040, the UK is going further than almost every other European nation.

“We will carefully consider the joint committee’s report and respond in due course.”

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