Cities take lead on air pollution

2nd June 2016

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Politics & Economics ,
  • England ,
  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Air ,
  • Prevention & Control


Charlotte Dickinson

The growing need to tackle poor air quality in cities around the world is resulting in direct action.

Although central governments seem unable or unwilling to take the necessary steps to bring air quality within the ‘safe limits’ set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), more cities are facing up to the challenge and introducing control measures.

One of the first acts by the new London mayor, Sadiq Khan, was to commit to substantially increasing the size of London’s ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) and to bring forward plans to implement it. The ULEZ will set new emissions standards for vehicles so that only the newest, cleanest diesel vehicles can be driven in central London.

The aim is to reduce the estimated 9,500 premature deaths in London every year due to long-term exposure to air pollution, and bring the capital’s air quality within EU limits. Figures for the UK as a whole show that up to 40,000 people die prematurely each year from poor air quality (including from indoor air pollution).

Updated figures for London from the WHO air pollution database show that annual mean levels of PM10 are 22ug/m3 – just above the recommended 20ug/m3. Levels of PM2.5 are 15ug/m3, compared with the recommended 10ug/m3.

It is not just London where action is being taken. In Delhi, the sale of diesel cars with two-litre engines or higher have been banned, and city authorities have introduced alternate day access for cars based on odd/even number plates. Paris has taken similar action and introduced weekend car bans in many areas.

The UN projections are for the global population to grow by 2.5 billion over the next 34 years, reaching 9.7 billion by 2050. Mega-cities will become the norm and new forms of mobility will be required that are clean and low-carbon.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

How much is too much?

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Five of the latest books on the environment and sustainability

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Ben Goodwin reflects on policy, practice and advocacy over the past year

2nd April 2024

Read more

A hangover from EU legislation, requirements on the need for consideration of nutrient neutrality for developments on many protected sites in England were nearly removed from the planning system in 2023.

2nd April 2024

Read more

It’s well recognised that the public sector has the opportunity to work towards a national net-zero landscape that goes well beyond improving on its own performance; it can also influence through procurement and can direct through policy.

19th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close