The death of Ella Kissi-Debrah has put a child’s face on a huge public health emergency. The struggle by her brave mother, Rosamund, to get air pollution recognised as the killer of her daughter can pave the way for a new Clean Air Act that will end the hundreds of thousands of premature deaths.
For the last twenty years, we have had a conspiracy of silence by governments of all parties who have refused to take the actions needed to save lives and reduce the damage to people’s health. The evidence of a link between air pollution and children having smaller lungs has been known for over a decade, as has the link with dementia and heart attacks. Governments and Local Authorities have failed to act on that evidence and have missed deadline after deadline for reducing pollution levels. Car companies tried to cheat their way out of their responsibility. Politicians caved into the car lobby, rather than reducing the traffic on our roads.
We need to make clean air a human right, enforceable in the courts with a Citizens’ Commission providing legal support for parents like Rosamund and others to take action against those responsible for bad air. Until we get a new Clean Air Act that has legal teeth, then all these promises by government bodies, local authorities and car companies won’t result in urgent action. We could call it Ella’s Law.