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Jan 10th, 2014

Victory: air pollution

By Amy Lockwood

Here’s some good news to start the year. Back in September, the government launched a consultation to try to push through damaging changes to allow local authorities to stop assessing air pollution and declaring where it is a problem.

That’s where we came in. 17,000 members of 38 Degrees, together with environmental lawyers ClientEarth, responded to the government consultation and told them to re-think the proposals on air pollution – and they’ve listened! They’re going back to the drawing board. Thank you for everything you’ve done to make this possible.

Here’s the government’s response:

“Overall it was thought that whilst Option 3 was intended to increase the focus on measures to improve air quality it would in fact have the reverse effect.” A full summary of responses and the government reply can be found here.

If the government pushed the changes to air quality through we would know less about where air quality is at unsafe levels and there would less action to improve it. Because poorer areas have dirtier air and certain groups are more vulnerable to the health impacts than others these changes would have left poorer people, and particularly children, paying the price.

Maria Arnold from ClientEarth thought that 38 Degrees members had a lot to do with the government’s backtrack:

“Thanks so much to 38 Degrees members for standing strong against these crazy proposals. We need to see urgent action to clean up cancer causing air pollution, not attempts to cover up the problem. Together we sent an overwhelming message to the Government that they won’t get away with it.”

This is an important victory. In 2014 we’ll need to continue to work together to tackle climate change. And, as victories protecting our planet don’t come around that often, let’s remember that people power works and take a few moments to celebrate.

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