POLITICS
20/10/2017 11:20 BST | Updated 20/10/2017 15:37 BST

Green Party Leader Jonathan Bartley Says Air Pollution Is Becoming 'Most Urgent Global Crisis Of Our Times'

Toxic air kills more people every year than AIDs, TB and malaria combined

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Toxic air is becoming one of the most urgent global crises of our times, according to the Green Party.

Alarming statistics show pollution is responsible for nine million deaths every year around the world - more lethal than AIDs, TB and malaria combined - and about 50,000 in the UK.

Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said the government must show better commitment to cleaning up the country’s air.

Current air quality strategies stop short of legislating for a network of Clean Air Zones - from which highly polluting vehicles are completely banned - a measure experts say would make the single biggest impact.

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Bartley said: “Air pollution is fast becoming one of the most urgent global crises of our times. The toll is three times higher than deaths from AIDS, TB and malaria combined. If we do not take drastic action now millions more will die prematurely.

“Britain is falling woefully behind other countries when it comes to cleaning up our air, with the government’s plans to tackle the crisis so bad they have been found illegal. This is shameful.”

He said the UK should follow the example of city leaders in Paris, who have taken drastic steps to cut dangerous emissions.

Public transport is free in the French capital on days when pollution levels are high, investment has been ploughed into electric vehicle schemes and cars made before 1997 have been banned from the city streets.

The UK government wants to phase out petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.

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Sadiq Khan wants to clean up London's air.

“The government must publish a new Clean Air Act fit for the 21st century, and urgently move toward making our city centres zero emission,” Bartley added.

“It is also imperative we work with our global neighbours to protect the world’s most vulnerable citizens, who we know will be worst affected by this public health emergency.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan’s ‘T-charge’ scheme comes into effect on Monday, which will see a £10 fee imposed on those who drive more polluting cars, vans, buses or lorries.

Heavy polluting vehicles will have to pay if they enter the congestion charging zone of central London - on top of the current £11.50 congestion charge.

The new restriction, which will operate between 7am and 6pm Monday-Friday, is part of Khan’s well-publicised plans to clean up the capital’s toxic air.