A new law to enshrine the human right to clean has passed through the committee stage at the House of Lords.
The Clean Air Bill is also known as Ella’s Law, after Ella Kissi-Debrah, the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.
The bill, put forward by Baroness Jenny Jones, would require public bodies to review and monitor pollution limits, with the aims of achieving clean air in the UK within five years of its passing.
It received no opposition as it passed through to the report stage.
Baroness Jones said she hoped the bill will pass before the 10th anniversary of Ella’s death on February 15, 2023. She later tweeted: “My #CleanAirBill went thru Committee Stage in about half an hour! We’d worked hard to deal with everyone’s comments so it meant there was widespread support and no opposition.”
Ella, who lived in Lewisham in south London, died from an asthma attack and in 2020, a coroner ruled excessive exposure to air pollution contributed to her death in a landmark inquest.
In spring last year, the coroner said the UK needed to bring its “far higher” threshold for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – a type of air pollutant – in line with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) to reduce the number of air pollution deaths.
Ella’s mother Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, now a clean air campaigner, said at the time that the target was “too weak”.
“We have moved on from 2005 targets. The WHO realised they were not even strong enough because 7 million people still continue to die,” Ms Kissi-Debrah said.
This is how many people the global health body estimates are killed every year around the world by air pollution, which is linked to lung cancer, heart disease, chronic respiratory and autoimmune diseases, among other health issues.