Clean Air Zones (CAZ) can deliver significant health and economic benefits by reducing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, according to new research conducted by CBI Economics, commissioned by the Clean Air Fund.
The research highlights that by restricting the most polluting vehicles from entering highly populated areas, a CAZ can deliver an average 18% reduction in NO2.
The CBI has said that this kind of reduction could prevent at least 1% of deaths and inject millions into local economies by reducing days spent in hospital or off work due to illness from NO2 exposure.
The report has highlighted that there is considerable regional variation and the further cities go, the more they stand to gain.
For example, the study finds that expanding London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could bring about an additional £48m in benefits, on top of preventing up to 614 deaths in the city each year.
Likewise, Manchester’s extended CAZ will inject at least £7.1m could inject at least £7.1m into the city’s economy – four times more than Liverpool and six times more than Bristol.
Overall the research shows that CAZs need to be implemented quickly so that local authorities can take advantage of these health and economic benefits, as the UK recovers from Covid-19.
Jane Burston, executive director at the Clean Air Fund, said: ‘This gives us hard numbers showing how Clean Air Zones will be good for both people’s health and local economies in our major cities. The further cities go, the greater the gains. City leaders must prioritise delivering Clean Air Zones or they risk holding their economies back as we build back better from the pandemic.’
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, added: ‘This year sees the UK play host to COP26, an event which must act as a global calling card for more countries to target a net-zero economy. Businesses have a big role to play, but so do each and every one of us.
‘Acting environmentally responsible as individuals, communities and cities can help minimise our impact. Reducing air pollution is an urgent priority for public health in built-up areas, but also over the longer-term, as we create more sustainable cities for the future.’
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