FIA Foundation joins London & Accra in Breathe Life campaign

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Lord Robertson announces the FIA Foundation’s support for Breathe Life.
Lord Robertson announces the FIA Foundation’s support for Breathe Life.
Mayor Sadiq Khan released new air quality data for London at the conference.
Mayor Sadiq Khan released new air quality data for London at the conference.
Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health & Environment.
Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health & Environment.
Naysan Sabha, Director of Communications, UN Environment.
Naysan Sabha, Director of Communications, UN Environment.

The FIA Foundation has signed up to the Breathe Life campaign for clean air in cities, alongside London and Accra at an event at London City Hall.

FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson joined London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan and Accra’s Mayor Mohammed Addah Sowah (main photo above) in endorsing the campaign which seeks to ensure all cities meet minimum World Health Organization (WHO) air quality limits by 2030. The leaders signed up at the Every Journey, Every Child conference organised by the Child Health Initiative on 4-5 October at London City Hall.

New research launched by Sadiq Khan at the conference reveals that every Londoner in the capital lives in an area exceeding WHO guidelines for the most dangerous toxic particles known as PM2.5. The report, based on the latest updated London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, also shows that 7.9 million Londoners – nearly 95 per cent of the capital’s population – live in areas of London that exceed the guidelines by 50 per cent or more. PM2.5 are small toxic air particles which are widely acknowledged to have the greatest impact on health with both short and long-term exposure increasing the likelihood of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Children exposed to these toxic pollutants are more likely to grow up with reduced lung function and develop asthma, while PM2.5 is also known to result in 29,000 premature deaths in the UK every year. New data, based on updated 2013 exposure estimates, shows that in central London the average annual levels of PM2.5 are almost double the WHO guideline limits of 10 µg/m3.

The Mayor released the damning report as he delivered a keynote speech at the ‘Every Journey, Every Child’ Conference at City Hall and signed London up to the Breathe Life coalition – which is organised by WHO, UN Environment and Clean Climate and Clean Air Coalition - to connect similar world cities, combine expertise, share best practice and work together to improve air quality.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “We should be ashamed that our young people – the next generation of Londoners – are being exposed to these tiny particles of toxic dust that are seriously damaging their lungs and shortening their life expectancy. I understand this is really difficult for Londoners, but that’s why I felt it was so important that I made this information public so people really understand the scale of the challenge we face in London.”

FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson of Port Ellen said: “Through our TRUE initiative, measuring the real emissions of vehicles as they drive on the streets, we are working with partners including C40 Cities, The International Council on Clean Transportation and the Mayor’s team at the Greater London Authority, to improve the health of all the citizens of this great city. Together with our Share the Road campaign to promote walking and cycling, and action to clean up vehicles through our Global Fuel Economy Initiative, TRUE forms part of the FIA Foundation’s contribution to the Breathe Life campaign.”

Also participating in the campaign were Maria Neira, Director of Public Health & Environment at WHO, and Naysan Sabah, Director of Communications for UN Environment, who highlighted the importance of cities taking action to improve air quality. The heads of their respective agencies also issued statements welcoming the announcement that London would be joining the Breathe Life coalition.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said: “To ensure good health, every person must be able to breathe clean air no matter where they live. London’s plan to clean up their air means millions of people will be able to walk to work and walk their children to school without worrying about whether the air is going to make them sick. More cities around the world must also follow suit.”

Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, said: “This is great news for Londoners. This support for the Breathe Life campaign and Sadiq Khan’s leadership means that millions of people can cease being hostage to toxic fumes. It sets an example of positive action that we hope cities around the world will follow.”

Learn more about Breathe Life at www.breathelife2030.org

Learn more about the TRUE Initiative at www.trueinitiative.org