UK Environment Secretary Admits They Will Not Hit Pollution Target

Thérèse Coffey, the UK’s environment secretary, admitted to the public in January this year that it may be difficult for the country to hit the 10 micrograms/cubic metre target for PM2.5 before the year 2040. According to the secretary, while some parts of the UK are already enjoying cleaner air, it would be close to impossible to achieve the same results throughout the country, and especially in London, by 2030.


Medical experts advised the government to set lower targets for the next decade, which is why Coffey introduced changes in the environmental plan. 


However, Imperial College London and King’s College London air pollution experts are confident that the UK government can reach stricter targets if they implemented tougher policies on air pollution and its sources, specifically wood-burning and diesel-powered vehicles. 


Coffey’s announcement came after London was placed under a public health warning. For several days, the city was engulfed by high levels of PM2.5 and other similarly dangerous particulate matter. Air quality throughout the city was one of the worsts in years. 


The chief executive of a respiratory-related charity, Sarah Woolnough, reiterated the dangers of air pollution, emphasising that the number of premature deaths in the UK every year has reached the 36,000 mark. Despite this, Woolnough said the government is still not paying attention to their call for fast-tracking compliance for the 2040 cleaner air goals. 


If the UK government is serious about adopting lower targets, the next 17 years will see children living in an environment with excessively high levels of air pollution. They will have to suffer the consequences as well, including asthma, cancer, and stunted lung growth. 


Research groups, environmental campaigners, and other concerned organisations agree that tighter regulations and targets may be the best way to stay in line with the approved limits. 


The Environmental Improvement Plan, all 262 pages of it, was presented on the 31st of January. Along with informing the public about focusing on the National Nature Reserves and wildlife and habitat rehabilitation, Coffey also announced that new funding will not be available for achieving the environmental targets. As such, farming industry leaders do not have enough sources to encourage farmers to shift to greener farming practices. 


Coffey’s plan also includes air quality improvement, which environmental campaigners find a little confusing because of the government’s current billions-worth road building program. 


Why air quality should be improved


The quality of air in the UK has been bad for decades. However, things got out of hand in 2015 after the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal surfaced. US authorities called the attention of the Volkswagen Group on allegations that the carmaker placed defeat devices inside Audi and VW diesel vehicles. The devices are used to cheat emission tests so vehicles can easily pass regulatory evaluations.


Volkswagen had to recall the thousands of vehicles that were equipped with the devices. They’ve also had to pay fines and fees over the years. They’ve spent billions on the payoffs, including compensation resulting from settlement agreements.


Once a defeat device is installed in a vehicle, it will automatically sense when testing is about to start, and will immediately bring down emissions to levels that match the World Health Organization-approved (WHO) legal limits. 


Although the vehicle appears clean and emissions-compliant, it isn’t. The reduced emissions are only temporary because as soon as the vehicle is brought out and driven on real roads, it emits unlawful and dangerous amounts of nitrogen oxides or NOx. 


NOx is a major reason for improving air quality. It is composed of several gases, including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO), which has adverse impacts on both the environment and human health. It produces a pollutant known as ground-level ozone, which damages vegetation. NOx also helps in the formation of smog and acid rain. 


Exposure to NOx emissions can also lead to a long list of health conditions. In some cases, depression and anxiety can set in. If you’ve had episodes before, they can come more frequently after you get exposed to NOx. 


Your cognitive health may also weaken and when this happens, your risk of developing dementia will increase.


The scariest, most life-changing health impacts of NOx emissions exposure are (aside from asthma):


  • COPD 
  • Laryngospasm
  • Pulmonary oedema
  • Asphyxiation
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Premature death


These health conditions and environmental impacts are the reason why governments should seriously commit to strictly implementing air quality improvement policies. 


As for drivers affected by the Dieselgate scandal, they should file a diesel claim against their carmakers. Aside from VW, other manufacturers involved in the scandal include BMW, Renault, Mercedes-Benz, and Vauxhall. The UK-based Vauxhall, like VW, is already busy dealing with claims cases filed by lawyers on behalf of affected drivers.


Is it good for me to file my diesel claim?


A diesel claim is the legal way of making carmakers accept their responsibility for lying and mis-selling to their customers. Anybody who has had to deal with a defeat device-equipped diesel vehicle has every right to bring their carmaker to court.


However, before you can start your emission claim, you have to visit Emissions.co.uk first to verify if you are qualified to file one and receive compensation. After getting all the information you need, though, you can sit down with an emissions expert and begin the diesel claim process.







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