Proposed bill ‘Ella’s law’ could enshrine right to clean air

A new bill, which aims to protect people against air pollution, has been introduced in the House of Lords after being voted top of the ballot for private members’ bills (PMB’s).

The proposed legislation has been named Ella’s Law, after nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah made history as the first person to have air pollution listed as a cause of death after suffering a fatal asthma attack.

Green party peer, Baroness Jenny Jones, brought in the proposal which would make it a human right to have access to clean air.

If made law, it would tackle all forms of air pollution, including indoor and outdoor, and would set up a commission to evaluate government progress on clean air, alongside annual reviews of the latest science.

Big Ben, London

With its position in top place on the House of Lords PMB’s ballot, it’s likely the law will make it through to the next stage and reach a debate in the House of Commons.

Baroness Jenny Jones, said: ‘The government will argue that air pollution has improved a lot in the last two decades and despite their missing legal targets and constantly dragging their feet, there is some truth to that. However, the evidence of the negative impacts of air pollution on health has also grown, especially the threat posed by ultra-fine particles. Last year the government passed the Environment Bill without including the target set by the World Health Organisation for dealing with these microscopic bits of pollution that can lodge in the brain and other organs.

‘My “Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill” would enshrine the right to clean air in UK law across all forms of air pollution: indoor and outdoor; health and the environment; and, for the first time, require joined up thinking on climate change and local air pollution. We really need to start thinking about a zero emission strategy that reduces harm to human health and the harm we are doing to this planet .’

Pollution is a global health crisis, with The Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health recently revealing that it contributed to nine million deaths in 2019 – equivalent to one in six deaths worldwide.

Air pollution accounts for nearly 75% of those deaths, and more than 1.8 million deaths are caused by toxic chemical pollution – an increase of 66% since 2000.

Photo by Marcin Nowak


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2 years ago

But what counts as clean air? Anyone living in the terrible pollution of some of the cities we read about abroad would say we have nothing to get concerned about here in GB. And whereas I find lorry fumes and bonfires take my breath away, others do not seem bothered.It is all relative. A simple single air quality band, or colour, or level, assigned to any town based on the yearly average (of what? each pollutant combined or the worst one on any given day) will not tell us about how bad the air gets during rush hour right near our own house or office, or at the school gates, or on a winter’s evening when chimneys are busy, or when the summer air is full of BBQ smoke. I can’t see how we are going to get right down to the levels that really matter. At least not without measuring the air pollution far more widely and far more often, and knowing what the maximums are where we spend most of our time, and how long they last.

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