Today my Air Quality in Urban Centres Bill receives its Second Reading. The Bill has the support of MPs from all parties, the British Lung Foundation, the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Last week a report from the Royal Colleges revealed that there are 40,000 premature deaths caused annually by air pollution in the UK.
The Air Quality Bill will save thousands of lives and billions of pounds every year. Our cities are pumping out belches of diesel clouds which threaten the lives of families, in particular young children and unborn babies. The Bill gives local authorities the power to give residents a breath of fresh air by extending low emissions zones, tram systems, pedestrianisation and cycle-lanes, and even to ban the most polluting diesel vehicles from urban centres.
Motor manufacturers like Volkswagen, caught black-handed cheating emissions tests need to clean up their act as the Bill brings in tough new tests on diesel-burning cars.
The future is electric and hydrogen powered transport, and the Government needs to provide a national network to top up both electric and LPG vehicles.
My Bill means that the Environment Agency will be able to step in when a pollution cloud has hit an area, so that windows, doors and even roads can be closed, and if necessary local people evacuated until it is safe to return.
There are already too many children missing school because of asthma attacks, caused by big diesel cars lying idly at their gates. Every parent’s first duty is to their child, and my Bill will protect clean air to ensure healthy and happy families.
In his budget, George Osborne needs to ensure we invest in a greener, cleaner future in our cities, so that our children can have a happier healthier future. My Bill aims to take the ‘die’ and ‘ill’ out of dies-ill.
Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Air pollution causes tens of thousands of early deaths every year, increases the risk of lung cancer and impairs child lung development. Geraint Davies’ Bill further highlights these unacceptable dangers to the nation’s lung health. Immediate action must be taken by the government.”
In Parliament I warned the Prime Minister that our local environment is at risk from the US-EU trade deal, TTIP.
I said: "Britain is taking great leadership in environmental policy in Europe and beyond. Will the Prime Minister use the Paris conference to press the EU to ensure that imperatives on climate change from that conference are fully integrated into the US-EU free trade agreement, so that companies do not fine Governments when they pass legislation to meet stronger emissions targets?"
The Prime Minister replied saying that is was “an important point” that would need to be “properly dealt with”. The PM also affirmed the importance of implementing the agreements made at the Paris conference in the UK and EU.
As it stands our environmental standards are at risk. In Swansea it is important that our beaches and rivers are kept safe from fracking companies and others who will use the provisions of TTIP as it puts profits before public and environmental interests, I am glad I put this issue squarely on the Prime Minister’s radar.
Over 500 people contacted me concerned that TTIP will put too much power in the hands of companies, I am committed to ensuring that my constituents are properly respected and the agreement is changed.
Last year I led a Parliamentary debate in which dozens of MPs contributed, calling for greater scrutiny of TTIP. It is important that the Prime Minister is properly engaged with this important agreement that could undermine our environment. The needs of our environment must be genetically edited into the EU-US free trade agreement, so that greater trade occurs alongside our environmental surroundings.
Investment rules governing multinationals simply cannot trump agreements about our environment made at the Paris climate change conference. I will continue to press the government on the US-EU trade deal.