Health Policy

Government Clean Air Strategy to reduce pollutants and save lives

By - Integrated Care Journal

Government Clean Air Strategy to reduce pollutants and save lives

In the spirit of long-term plans, the government this week announced it’s Clean Air Strategy – set to ‘cut the costs of air pollution in society by 1.7 billion every year by 2020’ and then ‘5.3 billion every year by 2030. ' Furthermore, it seeks to save/lengthen lives and prevent issues such as stunted lung growth in children and asthma.

The strategy spans policy areas to deliver a programme of work 'across government, industry and society. '

It is estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that around 7 million people worldwide are killed by air pollution every year. Therefore, the main aim of this ‘world-leading plan’ is to reduce the exposure society experiences to particulate matter (PM) which has been identified by the WHO as the 'most profound pollutant threatening our health. ' The plan comes in addition to the government's commitment to halve the number of people living in areas breaching WHO guidelines on PM by 2025.

In the Clean Air Strategy, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs focus on the idea that prevention must be a priority over cure, a policy consistent with the recently released NHS Long Term Plan. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock stated: "Our health is unavoidably shaped by the environment we live in. Environmental factors determine around 30 per cent of our healthy life expectancy."

In terms of devolution, the Clean Air Strategy will continue to examine how local authorities can use powers to catalyse upgrades of heating appliances considered to be polluting and inefficient. Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said that the new strategy provides "new powers for local government and confirms that our forthcoming Environment Bill will include new primary legislation on air quality."

Policies outlined in the government's Clean Air Strategy will be featured in the Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill which is expected to set out primary legislation on air quality. The government has also announced that it will be taking action on agricultural pollution – estimated to be accountable for 88 per cent of ammonia emissions and has been found to impact biodiversity.


Analysis 

In relation to the overarching theme of the day - Brexit: Where exactly does the government’s Clean Air Strategy place us in the world, especially among our European counterparts?

Matt Hanock stated that the Clean Air Strategy is "taking the lead" with the UK as the first major economy to comply with WHO recommendations on air quality. It is worth noting here that WHO recommendations go above and beyond any EU requirements on clean air so, in this respect, the claim that the Clean Air Strategy is ‘a world-leading plan’ is not without basis. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, called the strategy an "example for the rest of the world to follow."

The government’s modern industrial strategy claims to be aligning the UK at the apotheosis of low carbon innovation. Alongside this, the government is investing in innovative ways to clean up the air with a joint £19.6 million research programme in partnership with UK Research and Investment.

In order to prevent future air quality related diseases and to support the NHS Long Term Plan, the government look set to make the Clean Air Strategy a key part of its' 2019 policy.

The full plan can be found here.


#ACJPublic #ACJ #ACJLocal