Forum Topics

Pro & Anti LTN Campaigners Unite to Tackle Air Pollution

Arguments in favour of the low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) introduced in parts of Acton include a reduction in air pollution resulting from less car use. Campaigners opposed to the LTNs counter that longer journeys caused by LTNs will result in increased air pollution.So, in fact, both sides at least AGREE that air pollution is bad and that we should minimise it. And that’s scarcely surprising when we know that in London, air pollution contributes to in excess of 9,400 premature deaths every year, and costs the health system annually between £1.4 billion and £3.7 billion.The main source of this pollution is road vehicles – but it’s not just their exhaust gases. The latest research carried out for the government indicates that dust from brake wear, tyre wear and road surface wear currently constitute over 60% (by mass) of particulate emissions (PM2.5 and PM10) from road transport. These fragments pollute the air and will eventually be washed into rivers and the sea. Electric vehicles do not solve this dust problem and can even make it worse, as they tend to be heavier due to their batteries. Currently no legislation is in place to limit or reduce these particles.So what can be done? Well, apart from walking or cycling instead of driving whenever you can, there’s one very simple thing you can do: Buy the LIGHTEST, smallest car that is sufficient for you. Doing so reduces every type of emission. By contrast, an SUV weighs on average 40% more than a normal car, due to its size and 4-wheel transmission.But there’s worse! Apart from the increased dust due to the extra weight, the International Energy Agency has found that SUVs are the SECOND LARGEST CAUSE of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade, eclipsing all shipping, aviation, heavy industry and even trucks. Each year, SUVs emit 700 mega-tonnes of CO2, about the entire output of the UK and Netherlands combined. On top of all this, studies of accident statistics in the USA found that a far higher percentage of pedestrians hit by SUVs died compared with those hit by a normal car. Having to share the road with 2-ton monsters puts people off buying a small car or cycling – the very things we need to encourage to tackle both air pollution and climate change.Already the European Transport Safety Council and the UK Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change (set up by the House of Commons) have discussed a ban on SUVs in cities. Sooner or later governments will have to legislate, but meanwhile we in Acton can do our bit. If you have an over-sized vehicle, simply commit to never buying another, and tell your friends why. And if you don’t have one, then keep it that way.The UK will host the UN Climate Summit COP26 in Glasgow this November; it will be the largest summit the UK has ever hosted, bringing together representatives from nearly 200 countries to discuss how to avoid catastrophic climate change. So, whatever we think of LTNs and whatever car we currently own, there is no better time for us to unite in a commitment to the planet for the sake of our children.SEE:====1) “How to Save Our Planet”, WWF International [8:27]. Sir David Attenborough explains how humans can take charge of our future and save our planet: ‘Humans’ - episode 5 of ‘A Perfect Planet’, on BBC iPlayer.REFERENCES:===========Demystifying Air Pollution in London – Report by London Councils: warning over car tyre and brake dust: Quality Expert Group: Non-Exhaust Emissions from Road Traffic. Prepared for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: preference for SUVs challenges emissions reductions in passenger car market. International Energy Agency:

Donald Power ● 63d10 Comments ● 14d