New legislation, which could ensure everyone has the right to clean air, will soon be debated in the House of Commons, after passing through Lords on Friday.
‘Ella’s Law’, or the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, would ensure pollutants and pollution limits are reviewed and monitored by a variety of public bodies to clear up the UK’s air within five years. A citizens commission would also review the government’s compliance with targets.
The Bill was brought forward by Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Mouslecoomb and will be taken up by Green MP Caroline Lucas in the House of Commons.
The law is named after nine-year-old Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah who is the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.
She lived near the congested South Circular Road in south-east London and died following an asthma attack in 2013.
Baronnes Jones paid tribute to Debrah’s mother Rosamund, who was at the House of Lords when the bill was passed. She said: ‘This is quite a momentous day for me and many other people…
‘I want to pay tribute to Debrah who is with us again today and whose daughter Ella is going to give her name to this law.
‘It will establish the right to breathe clean air; confirm targets for pollutants and greenhouse gases; set deadlines while allowing postponements; encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency and ensure a proportional approach to enforcement.’
Last week, the London Assembly voted unanimously to support the Bill and secure clean air for Londoners, after Green Party Deputy Leader Zack Polanski proposed the motion.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Minister, Lord Benyon, called action against air pollution ‘an absolute necessity’ and also paid tribute to Rosamund Adoo Kissi-Debrah.
He said: ‘The government absolutely recognises the need for action on air quality and we are able to take that action, supported by our robust and comprehensive legal framework, now improved by the Environment Act 2021. This is why we have reservations in regard to how the Baroness’s Bill would be delivered.
‘But in protecting people from the effects of harmful pollutants, we must not only take action to drive down emissions but also to drive up public awareness. The Baroness’s Bill and her hard work campaigning in support of it has undoubtedly furthered this aim.’
Photo by Lucas Davies
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