Press release: 8 December 2022

England Chief Medical Officer warns about air pollution dangers – ClientEarth reacts

England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty dedicated his annual report to air pollution, saying that “we can and should go further to reduce air pollution”.

Responding to the report, Andrea Lee, clean air campaigns manager at environmental law charity ClientEarth, said:

“The recent history of air pollution in the UK isn’t a rosy picture as levels of fine particulate matter stagnated over the last decade and illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide rebounded after the Covid lockdowns. The Government seems to be asleep at the wheel.

“Its recent, underwhelming proposals under the Environment Act to set a target to reduce fine particulate matter by 2040 are too little too late and would leave another generation of children exposed to dangerously dirty air. They are disregarding what top scientists and experts say is achievable and necessary.

“On top of this, ministers have missed their own legal deadline to set these targets in law. This delay is costing people’s health and putting a further burden on our NHS and the economy. What will it take for the Government to get a grip on this public health threat?”

The latest air pollution figures released by the UK Government reveal that:

  • The number of areas in the UK reporting illegal pollution doubled in just one year.
  • Every single one of the UK’s air pollution reporting zones is tracking pollution far above maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organization.


About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.