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Tackling air pollution and climate change together can save £24 billion

A report discussing how the United Kingdom can save £24 billion through measures which jointly help prevent air pollution and climate change was published by Defra today.

Environment Minister, Jim Fitzpatrick, said:

“Local air pollution has been reduced significantly over the last twenty years but it still damages our health. We are already working together across government to tackle climate change and air pollution, and this analysis shows that through linking these areas of work more closely, we can capture even greater improvements to people’s health and well being as well as protecting our global environment “

Despite significant improvements in recent years the effects of air pollution are still costing the UK around £15 billion each year. The report shows that climate change and air pollutants often share the same sources, even though the effects are seen on different geographical scales. By taking the health impacts of air pollution into account when working towards our climate change targets, we can make the most of our policies and investment and reach our targets in both areas in a more cost-effective way. In the long term, promotion of non-combustion renewable sources of electricity, promoting the use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and reducing agricultural demands for nitrogen will all benefit both local air quality and climate change.

Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Bob Watson, said:

“We’ve seen time and again that dealing with environmental problems in isolation is neither effective nor efficient. We need a coordinated view which confronts the complexities involved and seeks to maximise the co-benefits of actions. This document and the evidence behind it amply demonstrate the benefits which can be obtained from this type of holistic approach and sets out a clear path for air quality policy over the long term.”

Over the last couple of decades, local air quality has improved significantly in the UK. This is largely due to action such as the introduction of European vehicle emissions standards and controls of industrial pollution, as well as local authority efforts. Defra, together with other Government Departments, the Devolved Administrations and others, is working to improve air quality even further, and to meet outstanding EU air quality targets.

by S. C.
03 march 2010, World News > Europe