|A Greenpeace activist scales to Nelson Column in London’s Trafalgar Square. Photo credit: Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace.|
By Anders Lorenzen
It is an issue tipped to be a hot discussion point in London’s mayoral election next month, with a growing concern about the scale of air pollution in UK’s capital. And as we reported last year, the law firm, Client Earth, took the UK government to court last year (and won) over their inability to tackle air pollution in UK’s cities.
The voices in London which demand better tackling of air pollution has been lead by cyclists, pedestrians, asthma suffers Friends of the Earth, other groups, and local politicians. But last week another high-profile campaigning organisation joined up, that of the well-known environmental activist group Greenpeace. The group has of late has been most known for their campaign to stop Arctic drilling with a series of stunts against oil companies in the Arctic.
As Greenpeace launched their air pollution campaign on Monday it also comes with a spectacular stunt. As the video above shows, Greenpeace activists scaled the iconic Nelson Column in Trafalgar Square to fix an emergency air mask to his face, this was repeated on 14 other iconic statues in the capital and was done to highlight the toxic air in London. Greenpeace campaigner Areeba Hamid explained: “monitoring shows that if these statutes were real people, many of them would often be breathing dangerous, illegal air (2) . That’s why we’ve given them face masks. Of course, many millions of Londoners, including kids, are breathing that same air. Kitting everyone out with face masks is not the solution, instead, we need to see real political action from the new Mayor. We need a Clean Air Zone covering a large part of the city. Whoever wins the election has to stop the talk and start the action.”
Recent stats have shown that nearly 10,000 Londoners die prematurely from air pollution each year. Greenpeace is saying that they’re calling on the new London Mayor to create an expanded Clean Air Zone. They state that the current proposal for an Ultra Low Emissions Zone would not come into effect before 2020 and that it would only offer protection for people in central London (Zone 1).
All London mayoral candidates accept that the dirty air is unacceptable, but as to what means they’re willing to tackle it remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, the public pressure on this issue is showing no signs of dying out.
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