To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of committing to legally binding air pollution targets that are in line with World Health Organisation air pollutant limit values; and what other initiatives his Department has planned to ensure that the number of children living in areas of air pollution are halved by 2025.
This is a devolved matter so apart from the targets relating to emissions ceilings limits, which are already in statute, this answer applies to England only.
In the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, published in January this year, we committed to setting a new, long-term target to reduce people’s exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5). We will publish a report this year examining what action would need to be taken to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) PM2.5 annual mean guideline level of 10μg/m3. This will include analysis of the benefits to public health.
We are the first major economy to set out ambitions based on the WHO’s PM2.5 targets, and our Clean Air Strategy was welcomed by the WHO’s Director General as “an example for the rest of the world to follow.”
The Strategy sets out the measures we will introduce to reduce emissions of PM2.5, resulting in a decrease in concentrations everywhere in the UK. This reduction will result in a halving of the number of people living in areas above the WHO annual mean guideline level by 2025, compared with 2016.