I had high hopes that the government would fit the bill of ‘green government,’ and do what it had promised by tackling air pollution and climate change.
It seems, however, that I was mistaken.
I shouldn’t be surprised, but when a government claims to be green you do expect that it will be. Unfortunately, even though we live in an environmentally conscious world it seems that tackling the dangerous air pollutant, Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in London is not important.
If that’s the case then the government can’t claim the title of being green. But surely they’re doing everything they can to reduce emissions?
I’m not so sure considering the fact that the government failed to meet reduction targets in 2010. Now, though, it looks as if they can delay targets by as late as 2015 with a time extension under EU rules.
Of course, if you thought that was bad, consider this. Those in government clearly understand that as ‘green’ as they like to claim they are, they know that they can’t reach their targets by 2015.
Cue a search under EU rules and it seems that a loophole has been found. A loophole that, government lawyers have argued in High Court, would allow the government to delay meeting their NO2 targets by as late as 2025!
This delayed move will have an alarming effect on those who suffer from asthma and respiratory problems. So alarming in fact that in 2008, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) revealed that an estimated 29,000 deaths were the result of air pollution.
This just tells me that the government is certainly not as green as it thinks as it fails to tackle an issue that is connected with health problems in London. According to a report by the British Medical Journal heart attacks are the result of air pollution and lung impairment in children after a 10-year study in California revealed that lung capacity decreased by 10 per cent.
Even though lawyers from ClientEarth have urged the High Court to scrap the plans and have asked that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) put forward a plan that will cut NO2 levels by 2015, Defra could still appeal.
This then poses the threat that any further discussion on the issue would be put on hold until 2013. This means that nothing will have been achieved by next year, which is also the deadline for EU air quality targets to be reviewed. At this stage Defra could apply for fresh time extensions.
Even though Defra said that they will meet EU targets, will they really? Seeing as they weren’t met in 2010, what are the chances that the 2015 or 2025 ones will be?
But, as the congestion in London continues to spew out harmful pollutants, millions of people are left to suffer the consequences until the ‘green government’ decides when the time is right to tackle London’s air pollution.