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Sadiq Khan has said he is tackling London’s air pollution with “one hand tied” behind his back.
It comes after Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, whose nine-year-old daughter Ella suffered a fatal asthma attack in 2013, said earlier this week the Government’s air pollution targets are an insult to her memory.
He told the PA news agency in central London on Saturday: “I’m motivated to reduce air pollution in London, to have an ultra-emissions zone, to expand it, and to work towards smart roads to make more progress in improving the air in London.
“But I feel like I have one hand tied behind my back because the Government’s not helping, which is why I understand Rosamund’s anger.”
He added: “I want to make change now, reduce the number of premature deaths, reduce the number of children with stuffed lungs, reduce the number of adults with a whole host of health issues from asthma, to cancer, to heart disease.
“The Government needs to be doing far, far more, it’s kicking the can down the road.”
It comes one year since Coroner Philip Barlow urged the Government to set legal air pollution limits based on 2021 World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and to launch a public awareness campaign in response to Ella’s death.
The Government is currently working towards meeting the WHO’s older 2005 guidelines by 2040.
Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah told a panel earlier this week: “It really is a bit of an insult to Ella’s memory when I think about it.
“What they are telling the British public is: ‘We will meet the 2005 target by 2040’.
“I try not to get emotional about it, but my concern is that it’s not going to change life for an asthmatic child who lives by a busy road and who is breathing toxic air.”
The family lived near the South Circular Road in Lewisham, south-east London.
Ella was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.