New UK air pollution targets ‘will fail another generation of children’

Despite adding a raft of new goals to the Environment Act, Downing Street policy is still falling short of what is needed to protect public health from a toxic atmosphere. 

Environmental law charity ClientEarth issued the warning as policymakers unveiled long awaited new limits on air pollution, which arrived two months after the initial deadline stipulated by the government itself — a delay critics say is indicative of the wider lacklustre response to the climate and air quality challenges the country faces. 

baby with white and green diaper

Among the new targets is a reduced limit on fine particulate matter — PM2.5 — with maximum levels of 10 µg/m3 set to be imposed by 2040. Although significantly lower than current legislation demands, this is still double the highest acceptable concentrations recommended by the World Health Organisation. 

‘After months of dithering on its supposedly ‘world-leading’ targets, the Government is announcing an air pollution reduction goal with a deadline of 2040 – that’s a shocking 18 years away. Meanwhile, another generation of children will be exposed to toxic
pollution far above what the world’s top scientists think is acceptable. With the announcement out just a week before Christmas, the government appears to have poor taste in presents,’ said Andrea Lee, clean air campaigner at ClientEarth. 

In other UK legislative news, the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill has now passed unopposed through the committee stage at the House of Lords, bringing it one step closer to becoming an Act. As part of our latest magazine issue, we turn to an environmental and sustainability law specialist to explain what this means — take a look here.

Image: Jan Kopřiva


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