Manchester Friends of the Earth welcomes the announcement that Greater Manchester has become the UK’s first member of the ‘BreatheLife’ cities network, and has pledged to achieve the World Health Organisation’s strict air quality guidelines by 2030.
Air pollution in the UK harms our health and causes tens of thousands of premature deaths every year in the UK. It is estimated that air pollution causes nearly 2000 people to die prematurely in Greater Manchester each year.
The air we inhale on the way to work, school and in our neighbourhoods has levels of pollution above European Union and World Health Organisation limits.
The World Health Organisation standard for fine (PM2.5) particulates is 10 µg/m2 which is 60% lower than the current European Union limit (25µg/m2 ).
Recent research has also highlighted that nationally more than 2,000 schools and nurseries are close to roads with damaging levels of diesel fumes and that at least 20 nurseries, schools and after school clubs are close to dangerous levels of NO2 emissions.
Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth Clean Air campaigner , said, “The pledge to achieve the WHO’s air quality guideline is a welcome step forward. Illegal air quality is a public health emergency and we need the Mayor and Greater Manchester leaders to take urgent action to reduce air pollution – starting with a commitment to phase out diesel vehicles by 2025.”
Andrea Lee from the Healthy Air Campaign said, “We welcome this announcement. It shows that cities like Greater Manchester are really leading the way on tackling the public health crisis caused by air pollution. The UK government, however, has so far failed to get a grip with the illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide that are harming the health of people across the UK.”
“The government will soon be publishing its improved plans for tackling illegal levels of air pollution following ClientEarth’s High Court victory last year. The UK government, however, should also be taking a leaf out of Greater Manchester’s book and commit to going beyond legal limits. They need to bring in a new Clean Air Act, fit for the 21st Century, that sets safer levels recommended by the WHO.”