For the first time in a London Mayoral election environmental issues have really come to the fore. Whether it’s the glorious cycle campaigners, cutting air pollution, or how to get our public transport eco-friendly we’ve seen these issues force themselves onto the candidates in no uncertain manner.
It’s estimated that four and a half thousand Londoners die prematurely every year, that’s the same that died in the great smog – every year. This should be a national scandal and yet has barely registered as an issue until recently.
We interviewed Simon Birkett of Clean Air in London (below) who has been doing exemplary work bringing the effects of London’s air pollution to the fore. He convinced us that this should be a major election issue, and we think others should feel the same. Air pollution is causing ill health and death and yet our current Mayor does little to nothing about it.
Maire Jacobs, a spokesperson for Climate Rush said “Boris Johnson’s policies are killing Londoners. In his five years as Mayor of London, Johnson has been roundly criticised for failing to deal with our toxic air quality and the ensuing public health epidemic. Instead he eases traffic, sticks pollution to the ground and scraps the Western low emission zone. London needs the next mayor tackle air pollution by reducing the number of polluting vehicles on our roads, improving cycling infrastructure and creating an affordable and accessible public transport system.”
Clean Air in London said of Johnson;
“Astonishingly, Boris Johnson has no new policies in his manifestos to reduce air pollution. The Conservatives (mistakenly) downplay air quality as a significant problem for London and include it in their economy manifesto. Mayor Johnson demonstrates his lack of understanding of the issues by promising to ‘continue a 100% congestion charge discount for low emission vehicles so there is a real financial incentive for Londoners to drive the cleanest vehicles available’ when it is a measure aimed at reducing CO2 emissions that increases the number of vehicles entering the zone and encourages those producing the most harmful emissions i.e. diesel.
“In a separate media release, Boris Johnson’s campaign team claims Stockholm and Zurich have worse air quality than London which is laughable if it did not show such a serious lack of understanding. Boris Johnson has also confirmed his commitment to measures at PM10 hotspots which include using the Pollution Suppressor in front of air quality monitoring stations (despite this being condemned by the three other candidates).
“With no new policies, Boris Johnson has been given a negative score because he has been caught:
1. Actively suppressing public awareness of air pollution
· Using the Pollution Suppressor in front of the air quality monitors most-used to warn the public during smog episodes and report legal breaches; and
· Failing to warn people during smog episodes even when healthy people may be at risk.
2. Actively campaigning, with the Government, to weaken UK and international air quality laws
· Helped establish an organisation involving other 11 European regions to weaken air pollution laws
· Lobbying to weaken air pollution laws including through the media
· Refusing to disclose details of his communications with other lobbying European regions”.
All the other candidates are better than our current Mayor on air pollution in London. All of them deserve your vote more than Boris Johnson does.