Local and regional policymakers must consider the air quality impact of net zero policies to save billions of pounds and to avoid another ‘dieselgate scandal’, a new report has said.
The new study from UK100, a network of local and regional leaders committed to delivering net zero ahead of the Government's 2050 target and tackling air pollution, argues that net zero policies should include a clean air audit and vice versa.
Introducing the concept of ‘Clean Air Net Zero’ (CANZ), the report argues that not enough has been done to learn from the mistakes that led to dieselgate, where diesel vehicles were promoted across Europe as a climate-friendly option without regard to the increase in deadly air pollution emissions associated with diesel combustion.
The study recommended that local authorities adopt the ‘win-win’ CANZ approach by, for example, supporting a transport shift away from private car reliance.
UK100 calculated that such an approach would boost local and regional economies by £1.6bn a year.
Polly Billington, chief executive of UK100, said: ‘While it might feel like the scandal is firmly in our rearview mirrors, one of the most important lessons of "dieselgate" was that we cannot and must not divorce clean air and climate policies. Our new report demonstrates that acting on these issues together is easier than some might think.
‘With local authorities the best placed to deliver effective climate and clean air action, our report finds Clean Air Net Zero (CANZ) presents a series of win-win opportunities to support local and regional leaders to align the two agendas. From public transport to clean heating; from energy efficiency to farming, clean air and Net Zero goals are inexorably linked.’