London and Bengaluru lead global air quality initiative

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has today (5 December) announced that the English capital will team with the Indian city of Bengaluru to spearhead a partnership to take air pollution in cities across the globe.

Khan, who is on a six-day trade mission to India and Pakistan to strengthen cultural and economic ties, announced the partnership as part of a meeting with the Mayor of Bengaluru, Sampath Raj, in Delhi.

The Air Quality partnership will cover up to 20 other world cities and will be delivered by the C40 Climate Leadership Group, which Khan acts as vice chair for.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Air pollution is a global problem that harms the lives of millions of people. Only by working together will we help beat this international health crisis and protect people from breathing in air so filthy it damages their lungs and causes diseases. I’m proud today to announce London and Bengaluru will be leading a new air quality partnership. We hope to work with key cities across the world and in India, including with our good friends here in Delhi.”

As part of the partnership, London will act as a testing ground to trial new technology, worth £750,000, designed to increase the capital’s air quality monitoring network. Up to 1,000 stationary monitoring sites with be installed and the pilot project could add mobile monitoring services to create a database from locations all across the city. The monitoring project will be delivered by C40 and London is the first city to benefit from it.

The sensors will be installed in 2018, and Khan wants more monitoring stations in areas exceeding legal air quality limits, some of which were breached five days into 2017, as well as the 438 London schools located in areas where air quality exceeds legal requirements. The sensors are part of an awareness project organised by the FIA Foundation charity, which runs in schools in Delhi, London and Nairobi.

London will share results from the sensors trial, which could then be rolled out in Bengaluru, Delhi and other cities. In fact, C40 is inviting the 91 cities involved in its network to join the Air Quality partnership, with the first meeting scheduled for Bengaluru in 2018.

“I’m doing everything in my power to clean up London’s lethal air from introducing the world’s first toxicity charge for older more polluting cars and bringing forward the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, to cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet,” Khan added.

“I’m pleased my ambitious work will soon be boosted by new state-of-the-art air quality sensor monitoring technology that will help deliver the most comprehensive data on toxic pollution ever.”

Deep breaths

Globally, air pollution is contributing to 6.5 million premature deaths every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Separate analysis from the organisation shows that 44 UK towns and cities including London, Manchester and Cardiff, are breaching air quality limits.

Last month, the Government was taken to court for the third time by environmental lawyers over the UK’s illegal levels of toxic air pollution.

Indian cities are also struggling with their own air quality woes. The Indian capital of Delhi introduced an innovative two-week trial to curb air pollution by imposing restrictions on private car use.

Cars with even and odd number plates were forced to alternate driving use between days. The result saw one third of the city’s three million cars removed from the roads, easing congestion. Authorities said the trial had resulted in a ‘more than 50% drop in air pollution’ that was predominantly caused by automotive traffic.

Matt Mace

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