Air pollution is major UK problem
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.