Air pollution is a national health emergency

The Government's plan for tacking air quality is not up to scratch, MPs on four Commons committees conclude.

We've been looking at what action the Government should take to improve air quality.

Air pollution is responsible for an estimated 40,000 early deaths each year.

It costs the UK an annual £20 billion.

Throughout the inquiry, we heard from public health and air quality experts, campaigning lawyers, NGOs, local authorities and Government Ministers.

The Government cannot continue to put public health at risk

The debate on air quality is too often cast as a war against motorists. In fact, regular car users are among the worst affected.

Unborn babies, children, the elderly, and those with existing medical conditions are among those at greatest risk.

Air pollution harms the brain, lungs, heart and immunity systems. Research also shows effects on intelligence, growth, and brain development.

Air pollution can be ten times higher inside a vehicle than on the street.

The Government must launch a national awareness campaign to inform the public of these dangers.

Better pollution monitoring at key locations is needed, such as outside schools and hospitals.

Current laws are not doing enough to protect public and environmental health

The Government should introduce a new law enshrining the right to clean air.

This law should adopt World Health Organization air pollution targets, which are tougher than the UK's current legal limits.

Road transport accounts for 80% of roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution. 

Real world vehicle emissions can be many times higher than the manufacturers claim.

The automobile industry must pay for a new clean air fund. 

The Government's commitment to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 also lacks ambition.

The Government should bring forward the date by which manufacturers must end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars, in line with more ambitious commitments from around the world.

Charging the most polluting vehicles to enter
a 'Clean Air Zone' could be the fastest and most effective route to improving air quality.

Despite this, the Government is failing to provide clear messaging and leadership on this issue.

The Government should make it easier for councils to implement charging zones if needed. This must be accompanied by support for low-income drivers and small businesses.

Reducing vehicle journeys can make a significant difference to local air quality.

Choosing to walk, cycle or use public transport can offer the triple benefit of reducing exposure to pollution, reducing emissions and congestion, and increasing physical activity levels.

Action on air quality requires a joined-up response. The Government must improve collaboration between different departments, speed up the roll-out of electric charging infrastructure, and provide more support to councils in order to tackle air pollution effectively.

The Government has two months to respond to our report.

Read our full report on Improving Air Quality and find out more about our inquiry on our website.