04 Aug 2017

Remove electric cars from cities says professor

Cycling, walking and better transit systems are the best answers to Britain’s air pollution problem. Professor Frank Kelly, a UK government’s top advisor, said that fewer cars should be allowed on British city streets, and not just replaced with electric cars. The UK government has accepted that there is no safe limit for pollution produced from brake and tyre dust.

While electric cars do not emit exhaustion fumes, they do produce large amounts of tiny pollution particles. Ten days ago, Michael Gove, the environment secretary, announced that Britain will ban all new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 as rising levels of nitrogen oxide pose a risk for public health. Hybrid vehicles won’t evade the ban. Government officials said that air pollution caused by cars poses the largest risk for the health of British citizens, costing almost £2.7bn in a year.

An ambitious programme to clean the dirty air in the atmosphere has been launched with the cost estimated at £3bn. Some of the measures included in the programme are retrofitting buses and other public transport, changing road layouts and altering roundabouts and speed bumps. The plan is bringing Britain in line with France and president Macron’s will to make environmental reforms. Emmanuel Macron aims at helping France to meet its targets according to the Paris agreement.

The UK government’s plan includes a £100m budget for the improvement of the British charging infrastructure. David Bailey, an automotive industry expert at Aston University, said that the timescale involved is sufficiently long-term to be taken seriously. Statistics have shown that around 40,000 premature deaths each year are attributed to the air pollution. 9,000 people die each year only in London, one of the most densely populated capitals in the world. London’s major Sadiq Khan was one the people calling for tough measures against air pollution. However, City Hall sources were a bit skeptical and noted that they wanted to read through the whole governmental plan because the city needs immediate help to tackle the problem.

Greenpeace stated that the plan is still miles away from bringing down toxic air pollution in the shortest possible time as the high court dictated. The organisation urged the government to provide clear solutions and funding to tackle unsafe and illegal pollution. Client Earth, which is the group of people that pursued the government through justice courts welcomed the announcement, but added that immediate action should be taken.

Frank Kelly, who is a famous professor of environmental health at King’s College London, said that most governments do not pay so much attention to particulate matter, which has strong links to cardiopulmonary toxicity. According to a survey, the legal limit in England and Wales for particulate matter is 2,5 times more than the one set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005. While Scotland has adopted the limit, polluting is legal in England and Wales. Kelly expressed the opinion that it’s vital to remove cars, even the electric ones, from the major cities soon and said that he is happy to see the young Londoners use ride-sharing and car club memberships.