London Mayor demands bolder air quality targets from government

The Mayor of London is calling for more ambitious air quality targets from the government, as despite progress being made, much of the city is still polluted with toxic air.  

The rollout of 547 School Streets across London has led to 260,000 children breathing cleaner air, Sadiq Khan has said, with £69 million per year earmarked to further develop the scheme.  

However, data has revealed 97% of schools and colleges in outer London still exceed air quality targets outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In three quarters of these areas, pollution remains so high it even exceeds lower 2005 targets.  

Now Khan is urging the government to set more progressive targets, as the October 31 deadline for statutory targets under the Environment Act looms.  

silhouette of buildings during sunset

He said: ‘School Streets are a key tool in helping to reduce air pollution around schools. They have made a massive difference to the way our children travel and there are now more children than ever in London benefiting from cleaner air, less congestion and safer roads. 

‘Despite progress being made, air quality around schools in outer London is still unacceptably poor which is why I have consulted to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone London-wide – to help save lives and build a better, greener and cleaner London for everyone. 

‘Even so, I can’t do it alone. The Government must stop disregarding the dangers of air pollution and act now to introduce bolder air quality targets under the Environment Act, to protect the next generation from the scourge of toxic air.’ 

Currently, the government is proposing a concentration target of 10µg/m3 to be met across England by 2040 and a 35% reduction in population exposure by 2040. 

Thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year due to air pollution, with 550,000 expected to develop diseases related to poor air quality over the next 30 years if no further action is taken, according to City Hall predictions.  

A potential expansion of the Ultra-low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could benefit a further five million citizens, a proposal which has widespread support.  

A recent YouGov poll found nearly twice as many Londoners believe the expansion should go ahead than oppose it, with 51% in favour and just 27% against the proposal.  

Photo by Ana Paula Grimaldi


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