Official figures reveal that the number of deaths caused by air pollution is more than those caused by obesity and alcohol combined.
Over the last 12 months more than 29,000 people died from air pollution in Britain. And many scientific experts believe this may be an underestimate as it does not include all air pollutants produced by emissions from diesel-powered vehicles.
Britain has been breaching legal limits for nitrogen dioxide since 2010 in 16 different cities and regions. The European Union is demanding the government draw up air quality plans to tackle the issue by the end of the year.
Solutions that should be considered include measures like those used in Paris which tackles the issue by making public transport free to use on days when air pollution is high.
Closer to home the humble school run should also be a focus of attention. 24 per cent of traffic in term time is down to parents driving their children to school.
To help tackle this issue the KM Charity Team is working with 40,000 children and families at almost 200 primary schools in Kent, Medway and Bexley. The impact of our Walk on Wednesday (WOW), Active Bug, Green Footsteps and Walking Bus initiatives is considerable – last year more 200,000 school run vehicle journeys were removed from Kent roads.
But as impressive as this is, there is an enormous amount still to do with 400 primary schools not yet a part of the campaign in our county. To build on the important work already achieved the partnership of schools, government, media and business needs to be expanded to provide additional resources to champion this campaign in our schools and community. And, of course, government must ensure the motor industry significantly reduces emissions from the next generation of vehicles.
The freedom to drive must go hand in hand with the responsibility and knowledge of the environmental damage it causes. I am not advocating that cars be banned or their use be rationed, but we must drive home the message that unthinking use of the car really is costing lives – and that if we moderate our car use, particularly at peak times such as the school run, together we can make a positive impact on air pollution levels.
If you share my belief and can join the Walk to School Campaign – either as a school willing to work with us – or as a business willing to sponsor local schools to take part – give me a call on 07989 164 752 or firstname.lastname@example.org