Children deserve clean air

This week, I attended the Clean Air Parents’ Network Reception in Parliament, where I met with parents and carers who are campaigning to protect children and babies from dirty air.

The Clean Air Parents’ Network launched their new campaign at the reception, calling for a Clean Air for Children Programme, which would introduce a range of emergency measures to protect children and babies’ lungs from illegal and harmful levels of air pollution where they learn and where they play.

The Clean Air for Children Programme sets out a clear plan which ensures local action, with the support of central government, to address air pollution and protect children and babies from its harmful effects.

All children should have the best start in life, and the air they breathe should not stunt the growth of their lungs or contribute to them developing future illnesses such as asthma and lung cancer. Yet despite this, children across the UK are exposed to dirty air every day, and thousands of schools, nurseries and playgrounds are located near roads with illegal and harmful levels of air pollution.

Children living in the most deprived areas are four times more likely to have under-developed lungs, whilst for the 1 in 11 children in the UK who have asthma, air pollution is not a distant threat but an immediate risk to their health and wellbeing.

If you’re a parent or carer, you can join the Clean Air Parents’ Network by signing up on their website or joining the Facebook group.

Clean Air Bill must include new agency to enforce the right to clean air

Four Parliamentary Committees have issued a joint report on air pollution today. One of its key recommendations is that there needs to be a new Clean Air Bill and that should establish a right to clean air. I have already committed to bringing forward such a Bill in the Lords, drafted by Clean Air London.

The pressure is building on the Government to act. Geraint Davies MP in the Commons and myself in the Lords, are both bringing forward draft bills to lay out what the Government needs to do. We need clean air to be a human right and with Brexit happening in the next two years, we need to urgently create an independent, environmental enforcement agency. I believe that we need a Citizen’s Commission to help people take the government and corporations to court if they fail in their responsibilities to public health and the environment. The loss of European Commission oversight with Brexit is both a threat to existing environmental protections and also, an opportunity to create something stronger in its place.