Populism has polluted the fight for clean air

<span>Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA</span>
Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Your interview with Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, for whom I act as a solicitor in claims arising from her daughter’s death, highlights the clear need for an urgent and precise response to address the risks to health from exposure to air pollution (How anti-Ulez campaigners misused air pollution finding in Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah death, 16 September).

The politicisation of London’s ultra-low emission zone makes a mockery of the strengthening scientific consensus that poor air quality causes severe health conditions. History will judge harshly the failure to heed these warnings.

In an era of polarisation, some issues rise above the popularity contests of today’s political discourse. Unless we act swiftly to use our better understanding of the threats to human health through air pollution, we risk an increased number of deaths and significant economic damage. The “enormous health costs” of air pollution could reduce global gross domestic product by 6.1%, according to the World Health Organization.

We need cross-party consensus on the implementation of measures to reduce air pollution, with adequate funding to facilitate them, including helping people with low incomes to buy less polluting vehicles. The urgency calls not simply for the training of coroners and medical professionals or the installation of more pollution monitors, but most importantly for definitive action by those in power.

The shocking backlash faced by Sadiq Khan in response to novel and brave measures is absurd when set against the reality of the scientific evidence. Short-term political slogans used to gain advantage in the run-up to an election will result in an unacceptable cost to us all.
Nancy Collins
Partner, Hodge, Jones & Allen

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