London’s Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, recently extended the Ulez scheme in London, meaning drivers are charged £12.50 a day when driving through certain areas in cars which do not meet the emissions standards.
But WHO’s environment, climate change and health director Maria Neira just told the BMJ that the climate emergency “requires courage, collaboration and the wisdom to learn from others”.
Speaking for the BMJ’s climate issue, she said that Khan’s efforts to reduce air pollution and improve health were “politically courageous and an example for mayors around the world”.
Neira also told the publication she wanted more action from politicians.
“Sometimes, you see big politicians talking and using the language of an activist, which is great,” the expert said.
Possibly making a dig at the current PM Rishi Sunak, Neira added: “But then don’t forget that they have the power. You are the prime minister, so don’t tell me, tell yourself and then make the right decisions.”
Sunak recently backpedaled on his green pledges, supposedly to pivot to a more “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach to net zero by 2050.
The decision to do so was met with great consternation, even though the prime minister said it was just part of his plan for “long-term decisions for a brighter future”.
Neira also suggested that backlash to initiatives like Ulez normally fades once people see the benefits.
Medical professionals have even called for air pollution to be listed on death certificates.
Neira herself gave a TED talk about how air pollution damages your brain back in 2019.
Meanwhile, worries about the lack of action towards the climate crisis continue to grow.