Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Freedom to Pollute

Last week I argued that motorists are unusually privileged by being:
" to pollute the environment and thereby kill blamelessly."
I attempted to put a cost on deaths related to vehicle pollution, and came to the figure of £14.5bn per annum. For simplicity I made some hasty approximations, figures from 2001 and ignored the costs of healthcare.

Since then the Environmental Audit Committee has published a report stating that poor health related to pollution costs £8.5bn-£20bn per year.

The report states that the Government is complicit in these deaths "by trying to water down EU air quality rules". In addition the Government is dodging the responsibility by putting the onus on cash-strapped Local Authorities to lower pollution.

One particular local administration could do a lot to reduce these figures. London is the most polluted city in the UK but, with control of Transport for London, the Mayor can do a lot to help. Unfortunately at the moment 4,000 people die on London from pollution alone, the same number as during "Great Smog of London" in 1952.
A review of London's pollution reduction measures.
From (colour enhanced for readability).
The Mayor even has an "Air Quality Strategy", but an independent review this year found that London only fares well on "Use of Economic Incentives", and even this was scaled back by Mayor Boris Johnson following his election.

In fact 3 measures have been scaled back or postponed: the Congestion Charge Zone, Low Emission Zone and Plans for Hybrid Busses. Remaining measures are either non-existent or "have not been implemented [meaningfully] so far."

London has the opportunity to do great things, but risks being held back by the privileged special interest group that is motorists.

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