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Sadiq Khan Pledges to Address London’s Air Pollution | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London Mayor Sadiq Khan. (AFP)

London – London Mayor Sadiq Khan decided to address the traffic circulation crisis considered the major culprit behind air pollution in the British capital and other European regions.

In 1952, the Great Smog suffocated London for five days, leaving more than 12,000 dead in a few weeks. According to AFP, the disaster was caused by coal used in industry and heating houses.

This health disaster prompted a ban on the use of coal in the city and promoted eco-friendly policies in the country. However, 65 years after this crisis, pollution still kills more than 9,000 Londoners annually, but this time the key culprit is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) produced by cars and trucks.

Gary Fuller, a senior lecturer in air quality measurement at King’s College London, said industry is part of the problem, but the focus, the problem areas are next to roads. He noted, however, that the issue is not just confined to the capital itself, as the NO2 limit is exceeded in many major cities up and down the country.

The United Kingdom was among five other countries, including Germany and France, who were warned by the European Commission about their bad air quality. In Britain, air pollution kills more than 40,000 people a year and causes respiratory problems, among children in particular.

The Greenpeace environment organization said in a study published this week that children are the most vulnerable to this type of pollution. The study showed that more than 1,000 nurseries in England are located next to roads where pollution exceeds legal limits and that another 1,000 schools and colleges suffer from the same problem.

Greenpeace Activist Anna Jones said children are extremely vulnerable to its effects and it can cause long-lasting health impacts and reduced lung function. This study comes to increase the pressure on the British government, which is already accused of neglecting issues related to air quality.

The government is expected to present new suggestions on the issue on April 24. In the meantime, Sadiq Khan made air quality a priority during his time as mayor. Earlier this week, he said the air in London is lethal and he will not stand by and do nothing over it. Last year, the mayor revealed that his asthma had reoccurred because of London’s air pollution.

Khan previously announced that he seeks the establishment of a low-carbon emissions area in central London by 2019 He also announced plans for new charges on diesel cars and older petrol-run vehicles. By 2019, diesel cars that have been in use for more than four years and petrol-running vehicles that have been in use for over 13 years will be charged £12.50 every day.