UK plans to tackle air pollution crisis after EU warning

Air pollution in the UK is contributing to roughly 40,000 premature deaths in Britain each year. Poor air quality in the EU shortens the lives of some 400,000 people every year.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

A "die-in" protest in London drawing attention to the dangers of air pollution for cyclists. (April 27, 2016)

The UK is preparing a new anti-pollution plan after the EU issued the British government a final warning in February for failing to address repeated breaches of air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

The EU has threatened to issue heavy fines to countries which do not comply.

The European Commission says more than 400,000 people die prematurely in the EU every year as a result of poor air quality.

The UK accounts for some 40,000 of those deaths.

"We'd like to see more people become aware of the problem of air pollution, for them to reach out to the government and for them to take action," said Vasilisa Forbes, an activist with the Clean Air Now movement.

Sixteen zones in the UK, including London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Glasgow, have dangerous levels of air pollution.

Last year, Britain's High Court ruled that the UK government's measures to combat air pollution were failing to comply with EU rules on NO2 limits.

Germany, France, and Spain are also on the final warning list of the EU to take action to ensure better air quality and safeguard public health.

TRT World's Sara Firth spoke with Vasilisa Forbes from the Clean Air Now movement about the problem and measures to tackle it.

TRTWorld and agencies