The Times Air Pollution Campaign: #Act4CleanAir

Wednesday 2nd October 2019

APPG Chair Geraint Davies MP welcomed attendees and introduced the panel.  The #Act4CleanAir campaign was launched with a video that features a cross-party group of MPs reading the Time manifesto pledges. All of these provisions were included in Mr Davies Clean Air Bill, which had been presented earlier that day and he briefly outlined.

The first panellist was Ben Webster, environment editor of The Times.  Ben explained the origin of The Times’ Clean Air Campaign, and his own role and experience of wearing a personal air monitor.  He outlined the targets the campaign had set and the support it had received from politicians.

Gary Fuller of Kings College spoke next.  He emphasised the health impacts of air pollution, the ‘invisible killer’.  He called for a holistic approach to tackling the problem rather than targetting only on one pollutant at a time.  There was also a need to focus on continuously reducing pollution levels, not just complying with limit values.  And he was encouraged by the rising public engagement with the issue.

Simon Birkett of Clean Air London was the next speaker.  He stressed the need for clean air to be a legal human right, and criticised Defra for its weak responses to rising concern over air pollution, including the recent Air Quality Strategy which he felt a not robust enough. He noted that there were currently six clean air bills being put forward in Parliament.

Baroness Bryony Worthington was the fourth speaker. She talked about the Clean Air Bill which she was sponsoring in the Lords, and argued that the core issue was combustion in urban environments and that this should be the real focus of legislation.

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, Founder at The Ella Roberta Family Foundation, was the final speaker.  She spoke of her daughter’s death due to asthma triggered by air pollutants, and that her tragedy was but one of many thousands given the scale of public health impacts.  Radical action was needed.

The Chair then opened the meeting up for Q and A and discussion.  In the debate that followed, points made included:

  • Whether the various Bills include measures to improve indoor air quality? The panel explained that did and others didn’t.
  • The decline in new vehicle diesel sales and the responsibilities of the motor industry in tackling air pollution
  • The reason for the Tines picking a 2030 deadline to end sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles. Ben Webster explained that 2030 matched the deadline chosen by several other advanced economies and therefore should be feasible, though an argument could be made for shortening the timescale further. Sandy Martin MP emphasised that changes such as the ban often needed effort and compromise to get sufficient support among stakeholders and in Parliament to deliver, however much they were supported by APPG members.
  • The need to tackle shipping emissions, which in many cases were unregulated.
  • The role of active travel and green infrastructure, along with tougher controlled parking policies.

The meeting concluded with a discussion about how best to maximise public engagement.  Karen Buck MP pointed out that public support was needed to enable tough policy actions to curb pollution, and the panel agreed that more public engagement was needed.

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The Clean Air Bill,  supported by 120 parliamentarians, can be downloaded here

Watch the Clean Air Bill and The Time’s Clean Air Manifesto video below:

video

Following are the MPs who contributed to the video:

  • Tim Loughton MP for East Worthing and Shoreham
  • David Drew MP for  Stroud
  • Andrew Selous  MP for  South West Bedfordshire
  • Tony Lloyd MP for Rochdale
  • Ed Vaizey MP for Wantage
  • Anne Marie Morris MP for Newton Abbot
  • Oliver Heald MP for North East Hertfordshire
  • Anna McMorrin MP for Cardiff North
  • Daniel Zeichner MP for  Cambridge
  • Geraint Davies   MP for  Swansea West
  • Afzal Khan MP for  Manchester Gorton
  • Kelvin Hopkins MP for  Luton North
  • Lilian Greenwood MP for  Nottingham South
  • Tracey Crouch MP for Chatham and Aylesford
  • Janet Daby MP for Lewisham East
  • Rosie Duffield MP for Canterbury