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Shape the IAQM’s response to the EFRA Committee Air Quality Inquiry

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought air quality into sharper focus. Emerging research suggests that poor air quality is correlated with higher death and infection rates from COVID-19. The lockdown led to a significant short-term improvement in air quality in many areas, but there are concerns that policies to discourage the use of public transport to limit transmission of the virus may now lead to increased road traffic pollution in cities.

In this context the EFRA (Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) Committee is revisiting its 2018 Improving Air Quality report and whether the Government’s 2019 Air Quality Strategy and the Environment Bill will deliver the national leadership necessary to deliver the “step change” in how air pollution is tackled in the UK.

They have therefore published a call for evidence, composed of five questions:

1. Did the UK Government’s 2019 Air Quality Strategy set out an effective and deliverable strategy to tackle the UK’s poor air quality and address the issues raised in our 2018 report? Has the UK Government put in place the necessary structures and resources to deliver its strategy?

2. Will the Environment Bill provide England with a robust legal framework to define and enforce air quality limits?

3. What progress had the UK Government made on reducing air pollution and enforcing legal pollution limits before the Covid-19 pandemic?

4. What does the early evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic say about the impact of poor air quality on health, and health inequalities for disadvantaged communities and other at-risk groups, and possible policy responses?

5. What are the current and emerging risks and opportunities for air quality posed by:

a) Short-term policy and societal changes in response to the pandemic, for example changes to transport to reduce the risk of transmission, and;

b) Medium and long-term actions to promote economic recovery.

The IAQM will be responding to this call and welcomes comments/feedback from its members on these five questions. You can give answers to some of the questions or answer all of them. Please submit comments by the 13th July.
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