To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. what steps the Government has taken to prioritise improving air quality in preparation for COP26.
24 February 2021
Air quality has improved significantly since 2010. We are committed to leaving the environment in a better state for the next generation.
Our Clean Air Strategy sets out an ambitious programme of action to reduce air pollutant emissions from a wide range of sources. The World Health Organization has recognised the Strategy as an example for the rest of the world to follow.
The Environment Bill delivers a number of key elements of the strategy including establishing a duty to set a target on PM2.5 alongside a further long-term target on air quality as part of the wider framework for setting legally binding environmental targets. As set out in a policy paper published in August 2020, we're also specifically looking at average population exposure to PM2.5 across England and setting an additional long-term target on this. The Report Stage is set to recommence early in the Second Session and Royal Assent expected in Autumn.
We have put in place a £3.8 billion plan to improve air quality and deliver cleaner transport.
We have also introduced our statutory instrument containing regulations to phase out the sale of the most polluting solid fuels (wet wood, bituminous (house) coal and high sulphur manufactured solid fuels) used in domestic combustion. This area is critical as domestic burning is a major source of our national emissions of PM2.5.
Climate change and air pollution are closely coupled because the sources of air pollutants are also often the sources of climate change agents. the UK recognises the potential for carbon emission reduction policies to improve air quality but also the risk that some approaches can increase human exposure to air pollution. The UK supports decarbonisation approaches that strive to improve air quality and minimise adverse impacts on human health, balanced with action to achieve reductions in carbon emissions.