Cities to improve air quality
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Diesel-powered vehicles will be banned from the roads of Athens, Madrid, Mexico City and Paris by 2025 as part of a pledge by the cities' mayors to improve air quality.
Decarbonising transport systems and promoting other options, including walking and cycling infrastructure, would help cut pollution and help deliver on the ambition of the Paris Agreement, the mayors said in a joint statement at a meeting of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group in Mexico.
They want manufacturers to stop producing diesel vehicles by 2025 and to support a rapid transition to electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles. ‘Mayors have already stood up to say that the climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face,’ said Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris and new chair of the group. ‘[Now] we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes – particularly for our most vulnerable citizens.’
The C40 also agreed to join with the World Health Organization and UN Environment Programme’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to support a campaign to halve the 6.5 million deaths from air pollution by 2030.
The BreatheLife campaign will support city governments to reduce harmful emissions from the transport, waste and energy sectors, as well as mobilise citizen action to reduce air pollution while slowing climate change. ‘Ninety-two per cent of the world’s population live in places where air pollution levels exceed the WHO safe level for air pollution,’ said Helena Molin Valdés, head of the CCAC.
Meanwhile, London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans to more than double, to £875m, investment in improving the quality of the capital’s air until 2021–22. His predecessor, Boris Johnson, had pledged £425m.
Khan’s plans include introducing the world’s first ultra-low emission zone a year early, in 2019, and extending it to the North and South Circular roads for all vehicles, and potentially London-wide for lorries, coaches and buses.
The Environment Agency has successfully prosecuted Southern Water for thousands of illegal raw sewage discharges that polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, resulting in a record £90m fine.
In Elliott-Smith v Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the claimant applied for judicial review of the legality of the defendants’ joint decision to create the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS) as a substitute for UK participation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
None of England’s water and sewerage companies achieved all environmental expectations for the period 2015 to 2020, the Environment Agency has revealed. These targets included the reduction of total pollution incidents by at least one-third compared with 2012, and for incident self-reporting to be at least 75%.
Global greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture are projected to increase by 4% over the next 10 years, despite the carbon intensity of production declining. That is according to a new report from the UN food agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which forecasts that 80% of the increase will come from livestock.
Half of consumers worldwide now consider the sustainability of food and drink itself, not just its packaging, when buying, a survey of 14,000 shoppers across 18 countries has discovered. This suggests that their understanding of sustainability is evolving to include wellbeing and nutrition, with sustainable packaging now considered standard.
Billions of people worldwide have been unable to access safe drinking water and sanitation in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a progress report from the World Health Organisation focusing on the UN’s sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6) – to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.