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From The Socialist newspaper, 10 May 2017

Tories forced to publish useless plans on toxic air

Corbyn must campaign on emergency measures to phase out diesels

photo Frankielon/CC

photo Frankielon/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Pete Dickenson, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party

The Tory government has finally come out with its response to the toxic air crisis - after being forced by legal action from environmental pressure group ClientEarth.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has estimated that 23,500 premature deaths a year are caused by pollution from nitrogen dioxide, mainly due to fumes from diesel engines. Emissions have been above the legal limits in almost 90% of urban areas since 2010.

The May government's proposals are vague and toothless, just a cynical attempt to avoid the subject while the election campaign is going on. The responsibility is put on local authorities to deal with the problem, but with no money to do it.

The Tories suggest councils should eliminate speed bumps as a way to cut down on the deadly gas, and only then consider anything that will cost a significant amount of money - even though, according to ClientEarth, the government has admitted this is the "largest environmental threat to public health" in the UK.

Millions of motorists were persuaded to buy diesels as a 'green' option by bogus engine pollution data put out by manufacturers, most notoriously Volkswagen, in order to boost their profits.

Tony Blair was one of the first to push diesels as a green option because they emit slightly less of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming than petrol engines, although it was clear then that switching over would have a negligible impact on global warming.

The Tories' proposal raises the theoretical possibility of introducing 'clean air zones' and a scrappage scheme to phase out the most polluting vehicles. No details, timescales, scope or costings for these ideas are put forward - in other words, it is just hot air.

London mayor Sadiq Khan intends to introduce a clean air zone to deal with the crisis, based on the present central London congestion zone and charging arrangements.

However, his approach will not tackle the problem. It could even make it worse, as diesels avoid the central area by going into the densely populated neighbouring boroughs. And it will make the motorists who were conned into buying diesels pay for the scheme.

What is needed is emergency measures to phase out diesels as soon as possible. Included in these must be a scrappage scheme that will fully compensate present diesel owners.

At the same time, retrofitting public service and commercial vehicles with non-polluting engines must be massively stepped up. The car companies responsible for misleading the public must be made to pay for the scrappage scheme - not us.

Campaigning on a programme like this could enthuse thousands to vote for Corbyn to save them from poisonous air.

More generally, as long as profit rules, the big vehicle corporations will always put the environment and public health low on their agenda. Democratic public ownership of these multinationals is vital to protect our health and the environment.

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In The Socialist 10 May 2017:


What we think

Local election results must mean Corbyn campaign is stepped up


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories wrecking our NHS: kick them out!

Corbyn pledges freeze on 'STP' health cuts

Corbyn pledges council powers to take over academies

Tories forced to publish useless plans on toxic air

1,000 super-rich own 658 billion!

Corbyn promises to scrap hospital parking fees

Corbyn would limit TV junk food ads

What we saw


International socialist news and analysis

France: Macron won't solve economic & social crises


Local elections 2017

TUSC's anti-cuts message finds positive response

Liverpool city region mayor election - almost 8,000 votes for TUSC

Tories win West Midlands mayor - the complete failure of the Labour right

Labour hangs on in Wales despite cuts councillors

Doncaster TUSC's campaigning against cuts goes on


Workplace news and analysis

Tube strike at London Bridge over unfair dismissal

After the Unite elections - now turn outwards

Workers fight back against race to the bottom!

Royal Mail walkout over suspension of union reps

Good debate and response at radiographers' union conference


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

US: women ice hockey players' strike threat wins living wage

Featured letter: disabled workers want our voices heard, not charity

Foreign aid corruption: capitalism to blame

Why I joined: raising the ideas of socialism

Theatre review: Fracked! Political satire skewers frackers

The Socialist inbox


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Campaign launch: "rip-off bosses and greedy bankers - enough is enough!"

Overflowing Corbyn rally in Leicester

Hundreds rally for Corbyn in Leamington

One Housing tenants force housing association back

Jobstown Not Guilty trial round-up

Yorkshire meeting in solidarity with the #JobstownNotGuilty campaign

Socialists tell free marketeers

Packed Socialist Party meeting discusses the general election

Sutton Coldfield socialist campaign stall


 

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