Southampton is the first local authority to join Oxford City Council by signing its cleaner air charter and other councils are being invited to jump on board.
As reported in EHN Extra, Oxford City Council unveiled its charter this autumn working with GreenPeace UK, and Friends of the Earth calling on the government to act on ten specific points to tackle air pollution.
It is thought to be the first collaboration with the two leading green groups headed up and led by a local authority. Oxford City Council is a leading council in taking action to improve air quality.
Southampton City Council leader, Christopher Hammond, said: ‘Air pollution is one of the top public health crises of our time. None of us have a choice in what we breathe in and when the air is polluted, it can cause all manner of serious health issues.
‘In Southampton, we’re committed to clean air, and are taking bold action to make this a reality. But councils cannot deliver change solely on our own. This is a national problem and needs strong governmental leadership.’
Between 28,000 and 36,000 premature deaths in the UK every year could be linked to long-term exposure to air pollution according to the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP). Health experts have warned that there is no safe level of nitrogen dioxide.
Oxford City Council board member for a cleaner and greener environment Tom Hayes said: ‘Local authorities can only do so much within the legislative and funding framework set by government.
‘Together, Oxford and Southampton are telling Michael Gove loudly and clearly that we need more money and stronger powers to achieve the best for people in our cities.’
The clean air charter calls on the government to take ten steps including ending the production of petrol and diesel vehicles earlier than 2040 and ensuring electric vehicles are not powered by fossil fuels.
Hayes added: ‘Everyone has the right to breathe clean air. This charter calls on government to take ten radical steps to put the health of communities first.
‘With the support of Southampton, Oxford seeks to protect all of our citizens, especially the poorest and most vulnerable whose health disproportionately bears the harms of air pollution. We call on other local authorities to sign the cleaner air charter.’