Caroline Lucas MP expressed her disappointment that Bristol’s Clean Air Zone looks set to be delayed yet again, nearly six years on from joining calls for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) on a previous visit to the city.
She was in Bristol on 25th June to support Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party, who is campaigning to be Bristol’s first Green MP at the next General Election.
Caroline Lucas, who is the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, visited Bristol in 2016 to join calls on the Labour Mayor to implement a CAZ in the city. Nearly six years later, the CAZ has been delayed again and is now due to start on November 22nd 2022.
Lucas said, “It’s quite something to see the Mayor sign a letter calling for tougher action on air pollution just days after he has delayed the launch of Bristol’s Clean Air Zone yet again. Nobody would accept six years of failure to act if polluted tap water was leading to hundreds of deaths per year – and quite rightly.”
“Greens are calling for local and national government to go much further to protect our health. My colleague in Parliament, Baroness Jenny Jones, has tabled a Clean Air Bill, known as Ella’s Law, which if passed could protect thousands of unnecessary early deaths from air pollution every year.”
“Ella’s Law would force the Government to act to bring air quality in every community up to minimum World Health Organization (WHO) standards. This would mean people no longer have to breathe air that seriously damages their health. The law would establish the right to breathe clean air as a basic human right.”
Green Party Co-Leader Carla Denyer commented, “This isn’t your typical politicians ‘dither and delay’, it has terrible, real-life consequences. Estimates are that 300 lives are cut short every year in Bristol due to this city’s toxic air quality – and some of the city’s poorer areas are the most affected, with as many as 10% of deaths linked to air pollution.”
“While it is encouraging that the mayor is signing up to targets to clean up our air by 2030, a pledge does not make the air clean. If the administration is taking this new air quality commitment seriously we expect to see urgent action to achieve it and a change in direction on transport. Without firm action this is just more hot air.”
As in many other cities, the Clean Air Zone being introduced in Bristol is required to address Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx) targets set by the government. But NOx is just part of the problem – and while NOx is mostly emitted by large goods vehicles and diesel cars, particulates like PM2.5 are produced by almost all road vehicles, as well as from burning solid fuel, dust from construction sites and generators.
To bring down the deaths and disease caused by air pollution we need to tackle both NOx and particulates. This is why Greens have previously called for a stronger and more comprehensive Clean Air Zone in Bristol, that goes beyond a short term fix and legal compliance to improve health and quality of life for the whole city.
Denyer added, “Genuinely clean air will take more than just charging old petrol and diesel cars – even vehicles compliant with clean air zones produce dangerous particulate pollution. That’s why Greens are calling for a major upgrade of Bristol’s transport, with safe connected cycling routes, a joined up and efficient bus network, and a levy on corporate parking to raise funds for more improvements.”
“When done right, clean air measures don’t only save lives, they can also support the local economy, improve quality of life and make it easier for all of us to get around our cities.”