Greenpeace hires Brexit campaign blunder-bus as ‘vehicle for change’

Greenpeace has hired Vote Leave's European Union (EU) referendum bus with plans to rebrand it a "vehicle for change", in the same week that the campaign group released new air pollution research that shows clean air will be a reality only if diesel vehicles are phased out altogether.

The double-decker bus, which featured the controversial claim that leaving the EU could boost the NHS by £350m a week, has been parked outside Westminster and rebranded with messages for the new Government as part of a “come clean” publicity stunt.

A subsequent blog appeared on the organisation’s website which called for the post-Brexit Government to ensure environmental protection by prioritising in six key areas including climate change, sustainable fishing and air pollution.

Greenpeace has made a number of vocal appeals to new Prime Minister Theresa May in the past week, co-signing letters which have called upon the Government to adopt “common-sense” food, farming and fishing policies and continue to meet European Union (EU) directives and targets until Brexit terms are in place.

‘Writing on the wall’

The Brexit bus publicity stunt coincided with the release of a Greenpeace air pollution paper which revealed that London will fail to reach compliance with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines by 2025 even if the capital returned to the lowest recorded level of UK diesel car ownership (around 10% of the car fleet in 1995).

“The writing’s on the wall for diesel, Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaigner Barbara Stoll said. “We need vital leadership from the Government in phasing out diesel cars over the coming years, to reduce the number of early deaths owing to poor air quality. Air pollution is now a public health emergency and children are on the front line. Sadiq Khan is stepping up to the challenge, but London can’t stand alone in this fight.

“We need urgent action from Theresa May and her new team to help clean up the car industry who’ve got away with polluting our streets for too long and help people make the switch.”

‘Scandalous pollution’

The Greenpeace research, conducted in partnership with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), calls upon the Government to progressively reform Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) to disincentive diesel vehicles in order to make significant reductions of invisible pollutant such as NO2. The report also makes the case for a scrappage scheme for older diesel cars across the UK, especially in areas of non-compliance with air pollution laws.

A diesel scrappage scheme formed part of Sadiq Khan’s recent wide-ranging action plan to tackle toxic air in the capital, which also includes the implementation of clean bus corridors and an emissions surcharge on the most polluting vehicles.

Commenting on the Greenpeace research, the Mayor of London said: “This important report is published whilst I’m conducting a major public consultation on my plans to crack down on the most polluting vehicles and to bring in hard-hitting new measures to improve our cities air.

“Nearly 11,000 Londoners have taken part so far but I need even more views and ideas to help me make a dramatic difference to the scandalous toxic pollution in our city.”

Capital pedestrianisation

Khan’s new air quality plans reinforce the Mayor’s central promise to significantly clean up the air of a city which breached its annual pollution limits for 2016 in just one week.

Last week, Khan unveiled plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street, meaning that all traffic including buses and taxis will be banned from the shopping street by 2020.

In just his first week in office, he revealed he would be directly involved in renewed action with environmental law firm ClientEarth during its ongoing legal battle with the Government.

Greenpeace’s report follows a plethora of publications highlighting the devastating extent to which the issue of air pollution is impacting the health of UK citizens and the world population in general. In the midst of these reports, edie took a look at the shocking statistics behind the air quality crisis.

George Ogleby

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