Drivers urged to ditch vehicles with 'mass car ownership dominating our cities' to mark Clean Air Day

Car ban sign and a busy motorway

Clean Air Day is designed to slash emissions across the country

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 20/06/2024

- 11:00

Updated: 20/06/2024

- 11:00

'Air quality in the UK regularly breaches the World Health Organisation's guidelines'

Experts are calling on motorists to leave their vehicles at home to mark Clean Air Day 2024 in a bid to slash harmful emissions across the UK.

Climate charity Possible has urged Britons to make changes to their everyday habits to commemorate Clean Air Day, taking place today, June 20.

The aim of Clean Air Day is to slash emissions across the country by urging people to use active travel methods and encouraging alternative transport options.

New data from Health Protection Scotland suggests that there are around 1,700 premature deaths in Scotland every year that can be attributed to air pollution.

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Clean Air ZoneClean Air Zones have been backed by environmental campaign groups PA

Representatives from Scottish medical colleges and many doctors have called on the Government to bring nitrogen dioxide levels down to the recommended levels laid out by the World Health Organisation.

Four Scottish cities, including Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, have recently launched Low Emission Zones to deal with pollution stemming from non-compliant vehicles.

Older petrol and diesel motorists are now being charged £60 a day to drive inside the city centres given that they will release more harmful emissions than other vehicles.

Writing to celebrate Clean Air Day, Izzy Romilly, sustainable transport campaign and research manager at Possible, said drivers could make small changes to achieve massive results.

She added: "Air quality in the UK regularly breaches the World Health Organisation's guidelines.

"We have let mass car ownership dominate our cities - choking our air, taking up space and blocking access to fresh air and nature. Action against air pollution goes hand-in-hand with action on climate change.

"If we want cleaner streets, we need to change how our streets are used - and that means fewer cars, more space, safer cycling, better and more affordable public transport, and lots more trees (all things that are good for the climate too)."

To mark the annual event, Portsmouth City Council has announced that anyone in the area can catch the bus for free in a bid to encourage more people to make use of public transport.

Data from the council suggests that a full double-decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road, while if everyone switched just one car journey a month to the bus, there would be one billion fewer car journeys and a saving of two million tonnes of CO2.

Highland Council is also holding events to inform people about cleaner transport options, with an electric vehicle display, bike health checks and the chance to test electric and inclusive modes of transport.

An anti-toxin mural has also been unveiled in London to highlight Clean Air Day, with the painting sucking in pollution along Euston Road.

The mural uses a specialist paint coating which can reduce nitrous oxide levels in the atmosphere by up to 73 per cent when applied to concrete and brick, according to Forbes.


An electric bus

Many councils across the UK have already invested in electric buses to decarbonise the transport sector


This comes as two members of Just Stop Oil targeted multiple private jets with orange paint at Stansted Airport this morning in a bid to convince the Government to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030.

Just Stop Oil has warned that supporters of the campaign group, along with citizens from Austria, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland will engage in "resistance" this summer.

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