Welsh MP claims ‘hopeless’ air quality targets will cause unnecessary deaths
There will be “thousands of unnecessary deaths” because of the UK’s “hopeless” air pollution targets, a Welsh Labour MP has said.
Swansea West’s Geraint Davies said the UK Government is not meeting the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, and suggested it is trailing the EU’s ambitions on air quality.
Mr Davies, who is the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on air pollution, was speaking in the Commons on a 10-minute rule motion, where he called for further legislation on air quality.
He said: “The Government’s ambitions are frankly hopeless in relation to the EU in terms of our targets. The Government said we would achieve 10 micrograms of PM 2.5 by 2040.
“While the EU is saying they will achieve that target by 2030, 10 years earlier. And that will mean thousands of unnecessary deaths in Britain. And this 10 micrograms isn’t anywhere near to the WHO current guidelines of five micrograms.”
The UK Government has committed to reducing PM 2.5 levels in England to an annual mean concentration of 10 micrograms per cubic metre or below by 2040.
The EU has proposed cutting its limits on PM 2.5 to 10 micrograms per cubic metre by 2030.
PM 2.5 refers to particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, which the Government has described as a “damaging air pollutant”.
The UK Government has said air pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health.
A Defra spokesperson said: “As the Environment Secretary stated today, we wanted to go further and achieve 10 micrograms by 2030, but the evidence shows this would not have been possible by the end of this decade – particularly in London.
“Our dual target approach will ensure reductions where concentrations are highest as well as reducing average exposure across the country by over a third by 2040 compared to 2018.
“We have already taken action including by legislating to restrict the sale of wet wood and coal, and our new environmental improvement plan sets out further action to improve air quality and to meet our long-term targets and ambitious interim targets for PM 2.5.”
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