Today, June 21st, is National Clean Air Day: a chance to take action against pollution to make the air cleaner and healthier for everyone. It is unacceptable that air pollution continues to place lives at risk. Whether by causing lung damage in children, or contributing to heart and lung disease in older people, this pollution is seriously affecting the long-term health of Bristol citizens, especially for low-income households with fewer transport options. This is why I’m calling on central government to help cities like Bristol fight pollution in our communities. To mark this event, I would like to invite you to attend a public drop-in event on College Green to discuss how the city can improve air quality and shape future Council proposals. Community events are being held across the city including at Easton, Totterdown, Bishopston and Southmead Hospital. It is important for all of us to work towards improving the air in Bristol, and I would encourage you to get involved. To find out what you can do, or for more information, visit www.cleanairforbristol.org.
Under my administration, Bristol is developing a Clean Air Plan targeting harmful traffic emissions, one of the key sources of air pollution. One of the aims of this plan is to reduce Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution, which mostly comes from vehicle emissions, in line with international air quality limits. By changing traffic management and investing in sustainable transport solutions, we can reduce the pollution caused by road traffic. We have already been hugely successful in making our transport systems more sustainable by investing in public transport and cycling infrastructure. More people in Bristol are walking, cycling, and using clean-fuel public transport.
Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Energy with responsibility for air quality, joined council colleagues on College Green to talk about what we are doing to reduce air pollution in Bristol. The Clean Air for Bristol stand gave the public the opportunity to ask questions about the developing Clean Air Plan, which includes a range of options being explored to tackle the problem, including charging some vehicles to drive in the city centre.
Yesterday, I attended the National Air Quality Summit to call on the government to support local leaders in our efforts to tackle air pollution. This summit brought together leaders including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham and local councillors such as Arlene Ainsley from Newcastle to identify common priorities, discuss best practice to mitigate harmful pollution, and work to lobby government to support local initiatives. I was able to share the valuable insight of Bristol and help shape national plans to ensure policies are fair and work for everyone.
I am using my strong partnerships with the private sector to help unlock sustainable transport. Bus use continues to grow strongly in the city, bucking the national trend, and MetroBus was launched to sustainably meet this growing demand. First Bus, our largest local operator, has switched over 150 buses to low emission or low carbon fuelling, and more are on the way to transform the entire local fleet to Euro VI standard in the next few years. I believe air pollution is one of the most important issues facing Bristol. Cities are leading the solutions to pollution, but we need the support of government. This is why I am using both local and national partnerships to facilitate a culture shift towards clean air for all.