50,000 Brits Killed by Air Pollution Each Year: Climate Change Targets to Blame
Posted Mar 23 2010 6:52am
We breathe it in; we breathe it out. We can’t survive without out, but often the air we breathe is tainted with pollution. Sometimes is noticeable, such as when visiting smog plagued southern California, but usually we don’t even notice air pollution’s presence. Pollution from traffic causes genetic changes in utero and increases risk of asthma, but it isn’t just infants and young children at risk. According to the British government, more than 50,000 deaths are caused by air pollution each year, and climate change targets may be to blame.
Ministers have been rebuked for failing to tackle the lethal problem, risking millions of pounds in fines for failing to meet EU quality standards.
MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee warned that climate-change targets were even exacerbating air pollution.
The Government has encouraged people to drive diesel cars which were more fuel efficient but created more particulates, while the introduction of biomass boilers in urban areas also led to air pollution.
On average, the British lives are shortened by seven to eight months because of air pollution, but to blame climate change targets for “exacerbating” the problem is ludicrous. It does not have to be climate change targets or air pollution, as mutual solutions exist. In fact, most governments, including the UK, are linking the two problems together. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (defra) explains:
Despite significant improvements in recent years the effects of air pollution are still costing the UK around £15 billion each year. The report shows that climate change and air pollutants often share the same sources, even though the effects are seen on different geographical scales. By taking the health impacts of air pollution into account when working towards our climate change targets, we can make the most of our policies and investment and reach our targets in both areas in a more cost-effective way. In the long term, promotion of non-combustion renewable sources of electricity, promoting the use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and reducing agricultural demands for nitrogen will all benefit both local air quality and climate change.
Air pollution existed before climate change targets, and certainly there are better choices to be made to meet targets, such “non-combustion renewable sources”. 70 percent of air pollution in British towns is caused by transportation. Transportation accounts for 21 percent of UK greenhouse gas emissions . Tackling this one aspect of air pollution and climate change would go a long way in improving British health.