There are several areas that you could bring up with your MP as a way of tackling the health issues connected with climate change. The areas touched on below are related to the areas of Cold Homes, Air Pollution and Heat Waves, for which you can find briefings by clicking on the links.
Clean air zones
A Clean Air Zone defines an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality, which often improves implementing a charge for high emitting vehicles. Of the UK’s 43 air quality zones, 38 have failed to meet the Nitrogen Dioxide limits stipulated by the EU and are unlikely to reach them before 2020. Areas in which this is the case include Greater Manchester, Merseyside and much of Lancashire.
Driving cars contributes to traffic congestion, air pollution, and the risk of injury to road users, whereas cycling and walking pose little risk have opportunities for physical activity. Increasing physical activity in the population has often been said to be “best buy”* for improving public health. Active travel involves taking small steps to reduce reliance on transport, especially cars and walking or cycling to work or school. Active travel can have many benefits not just for reducing pollution levels but also for our health and wellbeing:
- Active travel can reduce the risk of obesity and many chronic diseases
- Active travel can improve mental health and wellbeing
To encourage active travel, MPs can be involved in making it easier for people to become involved in. This may include schemes such as making pedestrians feel safe, and cycle paths as well as storage. Situational barriers to walking, including lack of time, having a lot to carry, and lack of sidewalks all form factors preventing active travel. The easier it is for people to participate the more likely an active travel initiative is likely to take off.
In 2013, domestic and international transport accounted for 26% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions (VCA). Currently, the government provides a grant to reduce the initial cost of investing in an electric vehicle, which can be up to 35% the cost of the car. The reduced running costs of electric vehicles compared to cars run on fossil fuels are an incentive to choose to purchase an electric vehicle. You can read more about grants and costs of electric vehicles on the Energy Saving Trust web page.
You can talk to your MP about installing electric vehicle charging points in your local area and about other initiatives to make electric cars a more appealing option, such as free car parking for electric vehicles.
If you’d like to read more into the benefits of and imposing active travel you can read a great paper in the BMJ here.
If you’d like to read more about health effects of climate change, you can access the Health Effects of Climate Change in the UK report, published by the Health Protection Agency in 2012.