According to the National Audit Office (NAO), there is a possibility that the UK will not be able to hit their 2030 air quality targets even if they continue to focus on their current policy measures.
The NAO also pointed to communication as a weak point for the UK government. A significant part of the population, particularly those who belong to the underprivileged sector, has yet to understand air pollution and its effects. It is also important for the UK government to help the public understand why viable solutions are needed.
Although there has been a decrease in toxic air emissions in recent years, there is still not enough progress in terms of improving air quality. The UK is one of the countries that are constantly in breach of the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Additionally, the National Audit Office asked the Defra or Environment Department to focus on making information about air quality easy to access. The public needs to be well-informed about air pollution.
Although the UK government has rolled out campaigns over the years, they haven’t been that effective. One such example is the Clean Air Zone, which has faced a lot of opposition from various sectors. Too many people still do not completely understand what the zones are for and how they work. While the zones have helped control emissions in the areas they protect, it is also essential to focus on people’s behaviour and how to improve air quality.
There haven’t been any significant national campaigns as well, especially one that focuses on educating the public about why clean air is beneficial for everyone.
More of what the NAO said
The NAO revealed that programmes intended to solve the issue of air pollution, particularly nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, have been progressing quite slowly. Only 16 of the 64 local authorities throughout England that breached NO2 limits are now compliant. Additionally, only around 14 have completely implemented the measures that can help reduce pollution, and seven local authorities still need to come up with a full plan with the UK government.
Several delays in the implementation were a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there have been challenges that the government has had to deal with as well. For example, particulate matter can pose certain health risks.
The NAO has suggested that the UK government come up with clearer air pollution information and clean air programs that should cater to the most affected or far flung areas.
Government authorities welcomed the NAO’s findings.
Why are car emissions bad?
Vehicle emissions have devastating effects on human health and the environment. The cars primarily emit NOx or nitrogen oxide, which has NO2 as one of its main components; the other one is NO or nitric oxide.
NOx reacts to certain compounds so they can form acid rain and smog. Nitrogen oxide is also responsible for the creation of ground-level ozone.
The most dangerous impact nitrogen oxide has, however, is health-related.
For those exposed to low levels of NOx, the effects are quite common: headaches, diarrhoea, difficulty in breathing, nausea and vomiting, and asthma. Those who already have asthma may experience aggravated asthma. Bronchitis, emphysema, and other respiratory issues are also possible health impacts.
The effects are far more serious and life-changing for people who are exposed to high levels of nitrogen oxide. A person becomes more susceptible to diseases, particularly the ones that are cardiovascular and cancer-related.
High levels of NOx exposure can also reduce lung function and may lead to asphyxiation or laryngospasm. Numerous cases of NOx exposures have also been proven to end up in early death, such as what happened to nine-year-old UK resident Ella Kissi-Debrah.
Ella lived with her mother near South Circular Road, a highly populated area. Without their knowledge, she was already getting exposed to high levels of NOx emissions. She was in and out of the hospital for several months, and she eventually succumbed to a severe asthma attack. After an inquest was ordered, the coroner ruled in December 2020 that her death was caused by air pollution.
Since NOx emissions’ primary source is road transport, any vehicle that emits high levels of nitrogen oxide should not be on the road. This is why vehicles affected by the diesel emissions scandal are always in the spotlight.
Dieselgate emissions scandal
The Dieselgate emissions scandal started in 2015 when Volkswagen was caught using illegal defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. Defeat devices are programmed to detect when a vehicle is being tested so it can artificially bring down emissions levels to within the limits set by the World Health Organization. In real-world driving conditions, though, the vehicle emits considerable amounts of nitrogen oxides – amounts that go beyond the EU and WHO limits.
Other manufacturers implicated in the diesel emissions scandal include Mercedes-Benz, BMX, and Renault.
If you are a car owner affected by the scandal, you can claim emissions compensation for the inconvenience the defeat device caused them financially and health-wise. Working with a panel of emissions solicitors will make things easier and more convenient. The ClaimExperts.co.uk solicitors are professionally trained and highly experienced. They know the ins and outs of a compensation claim, so you’re guaranteed to have greater chances of winning the claim.