Air quality, for better and for worse, has been high on the national agenda throughout June. From the National Audit Office warning that the Government will miss its air pollution goals, to Clean Air Day, via the Mayor of London's support for Ella's Law.
It has been high on the agenda of Local Authorities across the UK and a priority for UK100, brought into focus by the priorities for action agreed by Mayors and Local Leaders at UK100’s Clean Air Summit that took place in October 2019.
Throughout June this year, UK100 has been working hard to raise the issue of clean air on behalf of our local authority membership.
On Monday, 13 June, we launched our new Clean Air Net Zero (CANZ) report. The report stresses the importance of ensuring Net Zero policies include a clean air audit and vice versa.
The report identifies areas where clean air and Net Zero (CANZ) policies could deliver win-wins for both issues. It also argues not enough has yet been done to learn from the mistakes that led to dieselgate, where diesel vehicles were promoted across Europe as a climate-friendly option without regard to the increase in deadly air pollution emissions associated with diesel combustion.
The report will soon be the subject of a LocalGov news feature. You can also find coverage of CANZ in Air Quality News, Transport + Energy, Unlock Net Zero, Positive News, Environmental Journal and LocalGov. Including comment articles from Polly in Transport + Energy and Air Quality News.
On Wednesday, 15 June, UK100 and Global Action Plan hosted a drop-in Clean Air Day event in the UK Parliament. The event attracted extensive Twitter coverage.
Nearly 40 MPs and peers attended the parliamentary drop-in at Portcullis House, including ministers and shadow ministers.
- The APPG tweeted photos of all the MPs and peers who attended, and UK100 tweeted a collage of the notable attendees.
- UK100 had positive discussions about our work with Jo Gideon MP, Tim Loughton MP, Liz Twist MP and Dame Maria Miller MP, and we supplied them with Parliamentary Questions to raise the issue of air quality.
On Clean Air Day itself, 16 June, UK100 again worked with the APPG on Air Pollution to host a virtual event with UK Minister Jo Churchill MP, chaired by APPG Chair Geraint Davies MP. The event — which attracted over 50 participants — can be viewed on YouTube.
- Panellists included: Minister Jo Churchill, Geraint Davies MP, Prof Stephen Holgate, Dr Mark Miller, Emilia Liam, Dr Tom Russ and Larissa Lockwood.
- It trended on Twitter alongside a suite of #CleanAirDay events.
- A summary of the event will appear on the APPG website shortly.
- Attendees and panellists reported excellent feedback.
Also on Clean Air Day, 16 June, UK100 co-hosted a ‘Clean Air Zones: the political reality’ panel at the TRANSITION Clean Air Network’s ‘Beyond the Clean Air Zone’ event in Birmingham. The event brought together around 60 academics, policymakers, local authority officers, researchers, NGOs and industry stakeholders to define lessons learned, knowledge gaps and future solutions regarding Clean Air Zone initiatives.
On the panel, chaired by Christopher Hammond, Network Membership Director, UK100, we heard from three current/former local government representatives on the challenges politicians face in implementing Clean Air Zones and ways to overcome them: Cllr Liz Clements, Cabinet Member for Transport, Birmingham City Council Cllr Tom Hayes, Former Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Zero Carbon Oxford and Green Transport, Oxford City Council Nick Forbes, Former Leader of the Council, Newcastle City Council.
On Friday, 17 June, UK100 coordinated and sent a letter to the Environment Secretary George Eustice. More than 20 local leaders and mayors signed the letter to pledge to meet WHO air quality standards a decade before the Government's target. The signatories included the London Mayor and his colleagues in Liverpool, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Bristol, alongside cross-party leaders from up and down the country.
The letter was part of a response to the DEFRA "environmental targets" consultation, which closed this week. The press release also reacted to the National Audit Office air pollution report released on the same day.
The letter was released nationally with quotes from The London Mayor, West Yorkshire Mayor and Wiltshire, Bath NES and Brighton and Hove Council leaders. Each signatory also sent their own regional version of the press release to their local contacts.
At the time of writing, The Borough of Hounslow Herald, Local Authority Building & Maintenance, Local Government Chronicle, Oxford Mail and London Post have covered the letter.
June has been a busy month for efforts to improve air quality, but our work continues. We believe every day should be Clean Air Day and we will continue to work with local and regional leaders to ensure communities across the country can breathe more easily.