London smog

Two London councils lead campaign to improve local air quality

A new London-wide campaign has been launched by the City of London Corporation and Camden Council to improve air quality and local health in the region by encouraging drivers to turn off their engines when parked.

The ‘Engine Off, Every Stop’ campaign is being funded by the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund and is expected to reach over 8 million people across the capital.

It is part of Idling Action London, which has seen 30 out of London’s 32 local authorities and the City of London Corporation joining forces to drive down toxic air.

The campaign features posters and billboards on roadside sites and petrol stations across the capital, and drivers are also being reached with radio adverts, videos and social media, all in a bid to change behaviour.

The four-week project highlights air pollution as an ‘invisible killer’ and a dangerous daily reality for many Londoners, with posters revealing the amount of invisible toxic fumes spewed from just a single idling vehicle engine. 

Idling vehicles emit pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, which are linked to asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and cancer, as well as people with respiratory conditions, with the elderly, pregnant women and children being particularly vulnerable.

According to data by the London Assembly, it is estimated that more than 4,000 Londoners die prematurely every year from long-term exposure to air pollution,.

Commenting, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Port Health and Environmental Services Committee, Keith Bottomley said: “This campaign carries a very clear call to action for London’s drivers to safeguard public health.

“Air pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health, with up to 36,000 people dying prematurely every year in the UK.  Switching off when parked is one of the easiest ways to drive that number down.

“This simple change in behaviour will make a real positive difference. We need all of the capital’s drivers to play their part in ridding this city of toxic air and saving lives.”

Camden Council’s Cabinet Member for a Sustainable Camden, Councillor Adam Harrison said: “During the current lockdown, in which only essential journeys are allowed, lots of people have said just how much they enjoyed the quieter, low-traffic streets in London.

“We should learn from this and go further in protecting people’s health by cutting air pollution. This starts with cutting out avoidable pollution from engine idling.

“We are therefore calling on individuals and businesses to back our ‘Engine Off, Every Stop’ campaign and make a pledge to reduce emissions by avoiding engine idling wherever possible.”

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