UK Campaign: Air Pollution



The UK, who are far behind on their EU air quality targets, has been actively campaigning in Europe for pollution to be allowed to worsen. It’s been confirmed that London alone exceeded its air pollution limit for the year on 8th January 2016, causing air quality to become a major topic within government this annum.

It is estimated that 9,500 people a year die in London from air related illnesses and issues. Justine Thornton, a barrister specialising in environmental law explains, “The science is clear: nitrogen dioxide from road traffic is seriously bad for our health – particularly for children and elderly people, because it can inflame our lungs and lower our resistance to respiratory infections such as bronchitis. So much so that 23,500 people in the UK are expected to die prematurely every year because of this air pollution.”

So we must ask the question – why do we want this to get worse?

ClientEarth’s Findings

ClientEarth, environmental lawyers, found that the government pushed for car makers to be allowed to far exceed their nitrogen oxide (NOx) limits of 80mg/km until 2021, which came as a surprise following the VW emissions scandal last year.

RECOMMENDED READ: Defra National Statistics Release: Air quality statistics in the UK (1987 to 2014)

A lawyer for ClientEarth, Alan Andrews, comments;

“The decision to water down vehicle emission standards was a political stitch-up by the commission and an unelected committee of technocrats that will force us all to breathe illegal levels of air pollution for years to come. These rules are illegal and should be vetoed by the European parliament. If they fail to, the British government should take legal action to strike them down.”

Make a Difference

With almost 5 million businesses in the UK, collectively the private sector can make a huge difference in the country’s battle against air pollution. Whether you operate a fleet of delivery trucks, or simply manage a handful of company vehicles, you can do your bit by:


  • Offer incentives for staff to car share on their way to and from work
  • When arranging off site meetings, plan ahead to organise how you can reduce the number of vehicles being used


  • Reduce the drag of vehicles used for work by improving aerodynamics (remove roof racks, roof boxes and bicycle carriers when they aren’t needed)
  • Check tyre pressures at least once a week, especially before long journeys
  • Carry minimum weight in the vehicle, which in hand reduces amount of fuel used


  • Consider the speed you’re driving at and try to make gear changes by 2,500rpm, which is normally the most efficient point to do so
  • Ensure you are looking ahead to spot hazards in enough time

In addition, a featured guide on the British Assessment Bureau website provides you with hints and tips on how to create a greener office and to reduce your company’s carbon footprint, including cutting unnecessary corporate travel and using local suppliers – all of which will assist in reducing levels of air pollution in the UK.

If you’re looking for some help to manage all of your green endeavours, it’s worth looking into the internationally recognised ISO 14001 Environmental Management System (EMS). It’s been developed to be a practical tool to manage environmental responsibilities while assisting organisations to understand and comply with applicable environmental laws. The standard has proven to help organisations be greener and save money through measuring and reducing environmental impact.

If you are interested in finding out more about ISO 14001, visit our dedicated page on the environmental standard. Alternatively, follow @TheBABOfficial for weekly tips and a first glance at new guides.

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