ClientEarth and Mums for Lungs

16 November 2021 Last week ClientEarth organised an event with Mums for Lungs and Little House of Science where speakers talked about the specific effects of illegal air pollution on the small lungs of foetuses, babies and children and the ways in which they are campaigning for action to achieve clean air in the UK.

ClientEarth then talked about a possible new kind of legal action against the UK Government for failing to ensure safer cleaner air. Here are some notes taken from the meeting:

Last month, MPs voted against an amendment to the Environment Bill that would have committed ministers to set targets to reduce levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), one of the most harmful pollutants, to within World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines by 2030 at the latest. The amendment then lost in a very tight vote in the House of Lords. The final version of the Bill was finally agreed in the House of Lords last night and will now become law as the new Environment Act.’

A very disappointing outcome but ClientEarth say it’s still important to keep going because:
‘To start with.. calls for stronger legislation resulted in clean air being included in the Environment Bill in the first place. This then resulted in the UK Government committing to setting two new legal targets for PM2.5, as well as some improvements to the local air quality system for councils. These are no mean feats under the current circumstances.’

‘And, while the government has so far refused to set ambitious parameters for these targets in the Environment Act, you still have the opportunity to shape these through the upcoming target setting process. This should be done by October 2022 and will include a number of opportunities for you to push for ambitious targets to tackle toxic air.’

They suggest:
‘You… pass on our calls for stronger action to address toxic air pollution to your family and friends, drop your MP a quick email, share your experiences of living with air pollution with us or perhaps even provide a quote for a journalist.’

‘Since 2010, air pollution has been at illegal levels across the UK – and people’s health is suffering as a result.’

This is why ClientEarth is joining law firm Hausfeld to explore a legal case to seek compensation for people who have been suffering the real life impacts of illegally polluted air and push the government to better protect people.

Air pollution is associated with a huge range of health issues including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections. Despite this, the UK Government has persistently breached its duty to protect people from illegal air pollution.

They are organising another online event and this is the link to join it and find out more about this potential legal challenge and how you might be able to take part:

Date and time: Monday 29 November, 8 – 9pm on Zoom
Registration details: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/how-could-you-go-to-court-for-clean-air-tickets-209203773117

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions about how to join the webinar.

Further Reading·
Effect of Exposure to Traffic on Lung Development From 10 to 18 Years of Age: A Cohort Study·
Association of Improved Air Quality with Lung Development in Children·
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs website·
British Lung Foundation​·
AirText​·
London Air Quality Network​

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