Stricter U.K. Clean-Air Rules to Target Wood Stoves, Farming - EcoFinBiz Blog

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Stricter U.K. Clean-Air Rules to Target Wood Stoves, Farming

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(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government has unveiled a plan to significantly reduce air pollution by setting targets that fall in line with World Health Organization recommendations -- and go further than current European Union rules.

The Clean Air Strategy will focus on the public’s exposure to particulate matter, which can damage human health. If successful, the plan will save the U.K. economy 1.7 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) a year by 2020 because of people taking fewer sick days and visiting the doctor less frequently, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said.

See also: Bad air warnings in London and Paris peak with fish and chips

Defra will reveal how it intends to meet WHO targets later this year as well as introducing new legislation around limiting the use of wood-burning stoves and laws requiring farmers to use low-emissions technologies.

The Background

  • Toxic levels of pollution kill 7 million people a year, according to WHO. Nine out of 10 people around the world are exposed to dangerously high levels of pollutants that can lead to cancer and cardiovascular diseases
  • Air pollution across the U.K. is linked to around 40,000 early deaths each year, and is draining 20 billion pounds a year from the economy, a British parliamentary report said last year
  • The government has repeatedly been called out by British and European judges, as well as the United Nations, for breaking domestic and international law on acceptable pollution levels.
  • Pollution from advanced economies rose in 2018, reversing a five-year decline, according to the International Energy Association.
  • “The evidence is clear: While air quality has improved significantly in recent years, air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life," said Environment Secretary Michael Gove


  • “The adoption of the WHO targets as an aspiration is highly laudable, and sets the U.K. apart in the scale of its ambition,” said Alastair Lewis, Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of York. “The wide range of simultaneous actions being proposed, and sectors and pollutants being targeted, is a reflection that further improving air quality in the U.K. is getting harder and harder, now the big industrial and combustion sources are under control."

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at, Alex Devine, Nicholas Larkin

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