City leaders put pressure on government to improve air quality

At UK100’s Clean Air Summit yesterday (October 23), 16 mayors and city leaders from across the country signed a Clean Air Declaration which calls for a legally binding commitment to meeting World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on air pollution.

The event was hosted by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and was also attended by business leaders from Amazon, Google, Royal Mail and British Gas.

The leaders put pressure on government to improve its Environment Bill so that it is ‘fit for purpose’ and has targets that are legally binding alongside a national framework to improve air quality.

As the Environment Bill currently stands, there is only a commitment to setting a target for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) before 2022.

They also called for a national programme of financial support for low-income motorists to switch to cleaner vehicles, as Sadiq Khan launched a £25m scrappage scheme for low-income and disabled motorists in the capital.

Minister for Transport George Freeman also spoke and said that councils ‘will be given the freedom [and financial] support’ to develop better transport systems that encourage motorists out of their cars.

Christiana Figueres from the UN gave a speech which urged leaders to raise their ambition on clean air and ‘scrub air pollution out of our lives for good’.

Polly Billington, director of UK100, a network of 95 local leaders that campaigns on clean air, said: ‘Tackling toxic air pollution is a shared responsibility, that’s why the partnership we have announced today between central government, local leaders and businesses is so important if we are going to stop people dying needlessly.

‘With the right funding and resources, we can all play our part.’

The declaration was signed by the following city leaders:

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Cllr Dine Romero, Leader Bath and North East Somerset, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, Dan Jarvis, Mayor of Sheffield City Region, Cllr Wassem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport & Environment, Birmingham City Council, Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre, Cambridge City Council, Cllr Judith Blake, Leader, Leeds City Council, Cllr Adam Clarke, Deputy Mayor, Leicester City Council, Joe Anderson, Mayor Liverpool City Council, Steve Rotheram, Mayor, Liverpool City Region, Cllr Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader, Newcastle City Council, Cllr Sally Longford, Deputy Leader, Nottingham City Council, Cllr Susan Brown, Leader, Oxford City Council, Cllr Chris Hammond, Southampton City Council.

Businesses including the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVLRA), BYD UK, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, Enterprise Holdings, Geotab and M Group Services also signed the declaration.

The full Clean Air Declaration is below:

Together we can eliminate air pollution by working in partnership and if action is taken forward across government to:


  • Require, and provide necessary resources for, the meeting of world-leading World Health Organization air pollution standards, as a minimum, in the Environment Bill that will eliminate pollution from controllable sources.


  • Establish a programme that provides financial support for the poorest in our society and for small businesses to switch to cleaner vehicles, shared transport or active travel via schemes such as mobility credits, and also includes a £1.5bn Fleet Renewal Programme, stimulating the market to deliver cleaner vehicles, including heavy freight, municipal vehicles and for retrofit solutions.


  • Grant Local Authorities and Mayors the powers and funding they need to deliver zero-emission transport networks, encourage and enable behaviour change, including the promotion of active travel, and tackle non-road transport sources of pollution including: public transport, infrastructure, construction, planning and enforcement.


  • Create certainty for business and local government by setting out an ambitious roadmap to 2030 as part of a strengthened UK Government Clean Air Strategy that empowers business, local authorities and public bodies to collaborate with confidence and put in place the necessary actions needed for clean air.

Photo Credit – UK100


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