Air pollution causes tens of thousands of early deaths each year. It is estimated that 800 people a week – that’s 40,000 a year – are prematurely killed as a result of the toxic air in the UK. Young children and the elderly are affected the most.
A report published by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee last month provided evidence that the Government needs to take urgent action to clean up our air and prevent the statistics increasing.
The report is backed by campaigners and a cross-party of MPs, who say the Government is not doing enough to tackle the problem of air pollution.
Jenny Bates, Air Pollution Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “Dirty air is already the nation’s biggest killer after smoking. The solutions are out there but we need the Government to listen to MPs and campaign groups and take more urgent action now.”
Diesel vehicles are known to be a prominent source of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a damaging gas which contributes to thousands of early deaths every year by making lung and heart conditions worse.
Shocking new data shows that levels of NO2 on London’s top most polluted streets, according to official monitoring stations in the first three months of this year, averaged up to 133 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). The legal level for the entirety of the year is an average of 40µg/m3.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has been strongly criticised for putting the “interests of car companies before people’s health” and earlier this year ClientEarth revealed that the UK secretly lobbied in Brussels for pollution limits to be relaxed.
On 29 April 2015 the Supreme Court ordered the Government to produce new plans that would bring down the UK’s air pollution as soon as possible. However, after the Government failed to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, the judge has decided to return the case to court later this year.
The Government did release air quality plans in December last year, but they were deemed “woefully inadequate” and ClientEarth has urged judges to disregard those plans, order new ones and intervene to make sure the Government acts properly.
In the year since the verdict, despite ClientEarth’s legal victory over the government, which led to an unprecedented order by the UK’s highest court, air pollution in London is still reported to be three times higher than the legal limit.
Alan Andrews, Lawyer for ClientEarth, said: “You have to doubt the government’s commitment to protecting the British people from harmful air pollution when this is their response to a public health crisis.
“The government’s new plans to tackle air pollution are woefully inadequate and won’t achieve legal limits for years to come. The longer they are allowed to dither and delay, the more people will suffer from serious illness or an early death.”
Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution
The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.
Time for UK Green Revolution Change
So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.
In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.
The Current Market
The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.
One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.
It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.
How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener
Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.
Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner
There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.
A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.
As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.
Better Port Management
As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.
Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.