University of Birmingham experts address the clean air challenge

Policy proposals addressing our global clean air challenge have been set out by University of Birmingham experts during the Conservative Party Conference.

In a new report, written with an emphasis on solutions, researchers combine approaches from across the University to set out the policy, technical and behavioural approaches needed to deliver clean air.

Designed to provide a springboard for further discussion, the report’s authors aim to inform the clean air debate, but also to drive progress at scales ranging from domestic to global.

“We don’t always stop to think how clean the air we are breathing is, yet air quality is vital not only for our health and the health of our environment, but also for economic productivity, health care costs and the liveability of our neighbourhoods,” says Professor Aleksandra Čavoški, co-editor of the collection. “Tackling this challenge is complex and will need diverse skill sets from air quality scientists and engineers to strategists and lawyers. Our report offers some insight into how these different disciplines can come together to inform the debate and drive change.”

Recommendations in the report include:

  • *Local authorities should move beyond threshold compliance for air quality management, focusing on particulate matter (PM) and looking beyond transport sources of pollutants
  • *Vegetation should be used in urban areas to reduce exposure to air pollution, with best practice approaches included in planning guidance
  • *Reduce ammonia emissions by better management of animal waste and more efficient use of fertiliser
  • *Reduce road transport emissions by tackling production of PM and reducing traffic levels overall
  • Set legal targets for PM emissions that reflect the ambition of the WHO guidelines to protect health.

“The policy suggestions made in this report include technological interventions and changes in governance that are well within our grasp,” says report co-author, Professor William Bloss. “These suggestions are underpinned by the latest data and experimental approaches from across the University and its partners. Poor air quality leads to 30,000 premature deaths each year in the UK alone. That represents a call for action to policy-makers to work with us to implement urgently-needed change.”

The report was supported through the University of Birmingham Institute for Global Innovation Clean Air theme.


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