UK failed to enforce EU air quality standards – what will happen after Brexit?

(The Guardian, 14 Jan 2019) Government has astonishing record of fighting demands to meet legal obligations.

Air pollution was until recently regarded as a problem mainly for those whose health was already compromised or vulnerable in some way: the very old, the very young, and those with existing respiratory problems such as asthma. Thanks to groundbreaking research in the last few years, we now know the problem goes much further, to the root of human health: air pollution has been linked to miscarriage, dementia, heart disease and lower intelligence.

There is scarcely an aspect of human health that is not affected by the silent insinuation of this invisible killer into our lungs, our blood, our brains and every other organ.

Yet while the science has piled up, action has been slow. One reason is the diffuse nature of air pollution. There is no single cause, and some of the old sources – such as coal-fired power stations – have been phased out. Agriculture is an increasing source of air-polluting emissions and so, too, are the biomass-burners some people have turned to as a green alternative for heating their homes.

But it is now clear that diesel-powered vehicles are likely to be the worst offenders, and for decades government policy has been geared towards encouraging their uptake, through preferential tax rates. The criminal activities of some in the motor industry also outstripped governments’ ability to catch up with stronger enforcement.

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The Guardian, 14 Jan 2019: UK failed to enforce EU air quality standards – what will happen after Brexit?