London commits to WHO guidelines for PM2.5 by 2030

London mayor Sadiq Khan has joined over 30 city mayors around the world to pledge to reduce fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines by 2030.

Mayors from Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles have signed the C40 Clean Air Cities Declaration to recognise that breathing clean air is ‘a human right’ and commit to radical measures to tackle air pollution.

The pledge was unveiled today (October 11) at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen. The cities will regularly report their progress to the public, which they hope will kickstart a ‘race to the top’ in improving urban air quality.

According to C40 Cities, if the 35 signatories reduce annual average PM2.5 levels to WHO guidelines (10 ug/m3) by 2030, it could avoid 40,000 deaths each year.

A 2017 report, published by the Greater London Authority, found that every part of London exceeded the WHO guideline for PM2.5, with many areas having annual levels at over double.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London said: ‘Toxic air pollution is a global crisis, and as mayors, it is our fundamental responsibility to protect the public from this invisible killer.

‘That’s why, in London, we have launched the world’s first ultra-low emission zone, expanded our air quality monitoring network and taken ambitious steps to electrify and expand public transport. After the first four months of ULEZ more than 75% of vehicles in central London now meet these tough standards.’

‘Cities are leading the efforts to tackle pollution with innovative solutions, and I’m pleased to join mayors around the world in signing this declaration to help deliver clean air for all.’

The UK government is expected to introduce a new Clean Air Act as part of its upcoming Environment Bill, which could be announced on Monday (October 14) as part of a new Queen’s Speech.

Former UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove suggested that the Bill will enshrine WHO guidelines for PM2.5 in law.

The cities who have signed the pledge are below:

Amman, Austin, Bengaluru, Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Delhi, Dubai, Durban (eThekwini), Guadalajara, Heidelberg, Houston, Jakarta, Los Angeles, Lima, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Medellin, Mexico City, Milan, Oslo, Paris, Portland, Quezon City, Quito, Rotterdam, Seoul, Stockholm, Sydney, Tel Aviv-Yafo, Tokyo, Warsaw, Washington D.C.

C40 has highlighted some of the measures that member cities have already implemented.

These include Paris, whose zero-emission zone could prevent 385 premature deaths a year, and Los Angeles, whose Green New Deal includes policies on transportation, buildings, and industry that could prevent 1,650 premature deaths and 660 hospital admissions a year from reduced air pollution.

Los Angeles mayor and C40 Cities chair-elect Eric Garcetti added: ‘C40 Cities are leading the global work to reduce emissions with bold, concrete actions to ensure our children and grandchildren can breathe clean, healthy air.’