Cutting air pollution in French cities could save up to five billion Euros a year and prevent almost 3,000 deaths annually, according to a study released this week by the French Institute for Public Health (InVS).
After studying nine cities, including Paris, Lyon and Marseille, the InVS concluded this astonishing saving is within France’s reach – if air pollution stays within the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) maximum recommended levels.
You would think following WHO guidelines would be a given. Unfortunately, this is not the case in France or the UK.
The WHO recommendations are in fact twice as stringent as EU limits for particulate matter. While the UK Government claims to meet EU limits on particulate matter, it failed to meet the limits for NO2, as demonstrated by ClientEarth’s ongoing case against DEFRA.
And despite our failure to follow EU air quality directives, the UK Government is considering further dirtying London’s air by building a third runway at Heathrow.
With governments struggling to control air pollution, how can we promote the kind of economic growth that won’t make the problem worse?