Hotwells and Clifton Wood Clean Air Group
Air pollution affects us all, particularly the young: babies breathe in three times the amount of air per kilo of body weight than adults do. It has been linked to inhibited lung development and life-long conditions including asthma, as well as infertility, birth abnormalities, premature births, pneumonia in the very young, cardiovascular disease (blood clots, heart attacks and strokes), neurological conditions (lower cognitive development, depression, Parkinson's disease, and dementia), intestinal disease, cancers, and type 2 diabetes .
Today's city air can contain more air-polluting particles than it did during the great "pea-souper" smogs of 1950's London . The difference is that today's main pollutants are invisible nitrogen dioxide gas (NO2) and tiny particulate matter (PM). In cities these come from diesel engines, and burning coal and wood in domestic fires and stoves. Both diesel fuel and wood burning have been promoted as "environmentally friendly" options. Neither is true. In Bristol, levels of NO2pollution are illegal in many areas. PM is not monitored widely, but Bristol City Council acknowledges that health-based limits may be exceeded in the city centre and on major roads .
We have reached the limits of what can be achieved by improvements in engine technology, and there is wide recognition that the age of petrol and diesel fuels must come to an end. The UK government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Cities all over the world are committing to zero emission zones and transport systems powered entirely by renewable energy. In late 2018, Bristol City Council adopted a resolution declaring a "climate emergency" and pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030. This undercuts the ambition of the Bristol One City Plan- actually released later, in January 2019 - which was to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This plan aims at a city that is fair, healthy and sustainable for all by 2050.
Though the drive to achieve carbon neutrality is a response to climate change, it will also result in huge improvements in air quality. The One City Plan sets out what is necessary: electrification of the transport network; improvements in walking and cycling infrastructure; and sourcing renewable energy for homes and other buildings. The Plan includes targets for air pollution, including achieving World Health Organisation limits by 2031, and significantly undercutting these by 2050. The Plan also implies - but does not specifically state - that a reduction in the number of vehicles on the city's roads is needed, in order that other objectives - such as reduced congestion, improved transport journey reliability, and improved public spaces - can be achieved.
We support the One City Plan. However, Bristol's air quality is illegal in places so we believe that action must be taken urgently to accelerate the programme as set out for improvements in air quality. Our aim is to promote actions that will improve quality of life for everyone in Bristol:
- Raise awareness of the health impacts of air pollution that affect everyone, particularly the young, with a view to encouraging people to take voluntary actions to limit pollution.
- Raise awareness of the illegal state of Bristol's air, highlighting pollution "hot spots" in our area, and lobby the Mayor to take urgent remedial action.
- Support and lobby for "polluter pays" initiatives including a Clean Air Zone, as a means to immediately reduce pollution and generate funds for the improvement of sustainable travel options, as envisaged by the One City Plan.
- Support improved enforcement of the Clean Air Act to control smoke from domestic burning which it is difficult to justify in cities.
 Smedley (2019) Clearing the air. Bloomsbury Sigma
 Bristol CC 2018 Air Quality Annual Status Report