The campaign launched on 9 May with a clean air manifesto and the revelation that millions of children are breathing dangerous levels of air pollution.
A new online tool allows parents in London to check the air pollution levels of their child’s school and compare to others.
John Witherow, editor of The Times, said: “The Times has a proud history of campaigning journalism. We are not just reporting on change, we are providing solutions and fighting to make a difference. Cleaning Britain’s air is in the highest public interest.”
The Times’s Clean Air for All campaign manifesto in full:
- A new Clean Air Act to confer a legal right to clean air for everyone in the UK
- Ban sales of new diesel and petrol cars from 2030 and reverse cut to green car grants
- Temporary traffic bans outside schools at drop off and pick-up times
- Extend pre-2016 diesel and pre-2006 petrol pay zones to other cities
- Pollution monitor in every postcode — 3,000 in all
The first Clean Air Act, introduced in 1956 in response to the Great London Smog, was a world first. Britain has since lost its mantle as the world leader on tackling air pollution. The new Act should adopt tighter pollution limits based on World Health Organisation recommendations and give local authorities extra powers and resources to tackle all sources of pollution.
The government’s 2040 target for banning sales of new diesel and petrol cars is weaker than that of China, India and Ireland, all of whom aim for 2030. Britain should match this date. Some analysts say hybrid and fully electric vehicles will remain more expensive for at least another five years — others say it could be far longer. The government must reverse its £1,000 cut to green car grants, which were reduced to £3,500 in November.
All vehicles except buses should be banned from roads beside schools for 45-60 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon. The ban, which would not apply to main roads, can be enforced by automatic number plate recognition cameras. As well as improving air quality, more children will walk to school, reducing obesity, and there will be fewer road accidents.
Only London and Birmingham have imposed or promised charges on the most polluting cars. Dozens of other cities with illegal air quality, including Manchester, Bristol, Southampton, Newcastle, Bath and Derby, are failing to restrict these cars.
When people are given precise and up-to-date information from live local monitors about the level of air pollution near their homes, they will be empowered to take action, seek changes to benefit their health and hold politicians to account for promises to clean up the air.