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From: The Socialist issue 903, 25 May 2016: Tories in crisis - we can get them out - vote to Leave the bosses' EU

Search site for keywords: Environment - Health - Climate change - London - Capitalist - Global warming - Green - Gas - Energy - Boris Johnson

Boris hid killer air report

In London on a day of global climate changes protests, 21.09.14, photo Paul Mattsson

In London on a day of global climate changes protests, 21.09.14, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Joo Flix

It was recently revealed that the Boris Johnson administration buried a report on London's air pollution problem.

It showed that 433 primary schools in London are in places where levels of nitrogen oxides, gases that may cause acute respiratory illnesses, surpassed EU safety limits.

83% of these schools are in "deprived" areas. No surprise in a city where some high streets breached the EU's annual limit for number of hours of high pollution in just eight days.

This is the latest in a series of scandals. The World Health Organisation calls it a public health emergency, both in the UK and abroad.

Air pollution causes more than 40,000 premature deaths every year in the UK alone, and more than three million across the world. This is more than HIV and malaria combined, with the worst affected being the youngest, oldest and poorest.

As usual, it hits the working class the worst. More than 80% of the human urban population is now living with dangerous levels of air pollution. The number rises to a staggering 98% in developing countries.

This is nothing new under capitalism. From its beginning, workers in the factories and mines have died of horrendous respiratory illnesses such as silicosis. In many places, millions still do.

Air pollution is also the primary cause of climate change. With the 1C mark already reached, temperature increase shows no sign of stopping before the 2C red line. This will have unimaginable consequences.

And what is the answer of the capitalist class to all this?

In a time where the effects of air pollution in human health and global warming are increasingly obvious, the Tory government decides to cut subsidies to renewable energy, green houses and cars, while offering billions in generous handouts to oil and gas firms.

Capitalist companies are worried about hiding inconvenient studies and fudge results, not finding a way of protecting the environment. The climate change cover-up by big oil, and Volkswagen's recent emissions scandal, are just two of the striking examples of how corporations line their own pockets at the expense of the health and lives of workers.

Only a socialist society, with a democratically planned, publicly owned economy, can break this power and allocate the resources to solve this catastrophe looming over us.

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