Representatives in government and the transport, and health industries meet to tackle an issue that affects everyoneby Prospect Team / February 26, 2020 / Leave a comment
From the school strikes to Extinction Rebellion, 2019 saw a new wave of climate activism sweep the globe. Though it is just a part of the puzzle, air pollution has been linked to tens of thousands of premature deaths in Britain. How might we begin to tackle the problem? Representatives from the government, as well as the environmental, transport, and health sectors gathered in Prospect’s Westminster offices for a lunchtime roundtable on tackling air pollution and growing the green economy.
The session began with opening remarks by Jenny Randerson, the Liberal Democrat Lords Transport Spokesperson. “It’s good to see a wide range of interests represented here,” she noted, observing the tendency of industries to silo themselves in their own niches. Randerson opened with a flash of optimism. There’s rising awareness of the need for leadership on air pollution compared to the inaction common merely three years ago, she observed: “when I raised an issue, I was told the market would sort it out. The market doesn’t sort it out on its own, it needs help.”
Geraint Davies MP, member of the Environmental Audit Committee, stressed “we’ve got a window of opportunity coming up with the Environmental Bill” and recommended adding World Health Organisation standards for air quality to the legislation. After Brexit, Davies followed, Britain must be proactive about being the forefront for green innovation. “If the fiscal policy is in place to incentivise innovation than we’ll get there.”
The government must play a crucial part in Britain’s green transition. Claire Haigh, Chief Executive at Greener Journeys, said that while the government’s recent £5bn pledge to support bus services was a start, there’s further work to be done on road pricing and parking levies to incentivise the use of public transport: “These are the big policy levers that the government needs to pull.” Katy Taylor, Group Commercial and Customer Director at Go Ahead Group, affirmed the importance of local councils to Britain’s green transition. Representing the largest provider of electric buses in the UK, Taylor noted that to transition Britain’s fleets away from diesel to electric, “we do need local authorities to come to the table. We don’t need massive legislative sticks, most local authorities have the legislative powers they require.” Lucy Hayward-Speight, Delivery Planning Manager, Air Quality & Environment, at Transport for London has worked on the ultra-low emissions zones in the capital.…