Mayors call for tougher air pollution targets

City mayors representing more than 17 million people across the UK are urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to commit to tougher air pollution targets.

Following the inquest into the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, the cross-party group have signed a joint letter urging Johnson to enshrine in law a commitment to achieve World Health Organization air pollution guidelines by 2030.

Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, signed the letter after a coroner ruled that illegal levels of air pollution had caused the death of her daughter in 2013. She called on the Prime Minister to act immediately to protect the lives and wellbeing of other young people across the country. The letter has also been signed by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Mayor of the West of England combined authority, Tim Bowles, along with city leaders from Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and the North of Tyne.

The letter, which has also been signed by a range of business leaders, is calling for a £1.5 billion boost to government spending on measures to improve air quality across the UK and for WHO targets to be included in the delayed Environment Bill.

According to research by UK100, a group of more than 100 local authorities that coordinated the letter, the money could fund the removal of nearly half a million of the most polluting cars and vans from the road and incentivise people into cleaner vehicles, public transport, cycling and walking.

Polly Billington, Director of UK100, said: “We cannot wait any longer to prevent more tragic deaths like Ella’s. Forty-thousand people die prematurely in the UK every year from air pollution. We need to act with the fierce urgency of now, not just to serve Ella’s memory, but to prevent more needless loss of life.”