Businesses should embrace remote working to prevent a sudden spike in air pollution as lockdown is eased, says NGO Global Action Plan and NHS Foundation Trust Guy’s and St. Thomas.
According to a survey that was commissioned by the organisations on behalf of the Business Clean Air Taskforce, 87% of those currently working from home would like to continue to do so to some degree.
This would mean that post-lockdown there could be 17 million regular remote workers versus just 10.8 million pre-lockdown, meaning that 1 in 5 commutes by car could be avoided.
Air pollution significantly decreased after lockdown measures went into place, with notable reductions during weekday commuting hours. According to the survey, 72% of the public believe clean air is more important, specifically after research has shown a link between air pollution and coronavirus.
For some people working from home when it suits them would also improve their well-being, 65% of people said they are happier now that they no longer have to deal with rush hour.
Chris Large, partner at Global Action Plan said: ‘The experiences of working from home during lockdown how unlocked a new working option for millions of employees and it has kept many businesses running.
‘If employers support greater remote working, as many as 1 in 5 car journeys driven for business purposes could be eliminated, equating to 11 billion miles saved per year.
‘We should take this opportunity to minimise pollution and traffic, free employees from unnecessary travel and fortify business against future disruptions. We don’t need to work from home every day to make a significant reduction to congestion on the roads which will help people breathe cleaner air.’
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, added: ‘Here in London, we have already made great progress in improving air quality over recent years, and this has been accelerated further during the coronavirus lockdown.
‘But cleaner air should not just be temporary. As the Government starts to ease lockdown measures, our challenge will be to eradicate air pollution permanently.
‘Continued working from home, where possible, is now vital for allowing essential journeys on public transport to be made safely. But alongside our ambitious new plans to enable more walking and cycling, the longer-term effects of more remote working will mean even more improvements in air quality and help us tackle the ongoing climate emergency.’
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