Air pol­lu­tion is ma­jor UK problem

The Week - Junior - - Home News -

The United Na­tions (UN) has an­nounced that the UK Govern­ment is not do­ing enough to crack down on air pol­lu­tion. The UN is an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion made up of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from al­most every coun­try in the world. Af­ter vis­it­ing the UK, UN ex­perts said that the Govern­ment is not do­ing enough to en­sure that the UK’s air is clean.

What is air pol­lu­tion?

Air pol­lu­tion is caused when harm­ful sub­stances are re­leased into the air. The sub­stances can be any­thing from gases and tiny par­ti­cles of dust to smoke and fumes. One of the most harm­ful sub­stances is a gas called car­bon monox­ide, which is re­leased when fos­sil fu­els are burned. Fos­sil fu­els are burned to power our cars, homes and fac­to­ries. Many cars run on petrol, a type of fos­sil fuel, but the worst pol­lu­tants come from a fuel called diesel.

Why is this bad news?

The UK has long had prob­lems with its lev­els of air pol­lu­tion, and the Govern­ment has been crit­i­cised be­fore. In 2016, mem­bers of par­lia­ment (MPs) de­clared the is­sue a pub­lic health emer­gency.

To­day, air pol­lu­tion in the UK is es­ti­mated to cause around 40,000 early deaths every year. It makes pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions like asthma worse. “Chil­dren, older per­sons and peo­ple with pre-ex­ist­ing health con­di­tions are at grave risk,” the UN re­port said.

Where is it worst?

Lon­don is one of the most pol­luted cities in the UK. One road in the cap­i­tal was found to have gone over the max­i­mum limit for emis­sions set by the European Union (EU) for the whole of 2017 in just five days. Emis­sions is a word used to de­scribe the gases and par­ti­cles re­leased when fu­els are burned.

What does the Govern­ment say?

A Govern­ment spokesper­son blamed the European Union (EU), a group of 28 states that the UK be­longs to. The spokesper­son claimed that some EU poli­cies, such as tests of ve­hi­cles’ emis­sions, don’t work, and have caused dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment. Next year, the UK will leave the EU, and the spokesper­son said this is an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove things. Some say the op­po­site: the EU reg­u­lates emis­sions and with­out its poli­cies, the UK could be­come dirt­ier than ever.

What will be done?

The Govern­ment plans to spend al­most £3 bil­lion on im­prov­ing air qual­ity. By 2050 it hopes that all ve­hi­cles on the road will be pow­ered by greener fu­els, like elec­tric­ity, which don’t re­lease harm­ful pol­lu­tants. It also plans to in­vest in buses, and spend £1.2 bil­lion on en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to walk and cy­cle.

Test­ing air­pol­lu­tion lev­els in Lon­don.

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