When Sadiq Khan took office as Mayor of London in May 2016, his first job was to go through the outgoing Mayor’s Inbox. Among other horrors was an unpublished report on air pollution near primary schools in London, and RBKC came very high on the list of most affected areas. The combination of the Westway, west-east arterial routes such as Fulham Road, Brompton Road and Kensington High Street, and the railway in the north, emit a deadly cocktail of pollutants and particulates which affect us all – and particularly young children.
The highest acceptable level of NO2 is given as 40%, however St Mary Abbott’s reached an appalling level of 56% in 2010, the highest in the borough. St Thomas’ in Golborne ward, right next to the diesel particulates-emitting Great Western Railway, is in second place with an equally shocking 54% in 2010. While both schools improved slightly in 2015, they were still well over the level permitted.
Over the years I have been involved in a number of campaigns, and won a Clean Air in Cities award in 2014. In 2015 I was hospitalised with pneumonia and lost a quarter of my lung capacity. It’s been a long recovery and I now have asthma.
I well remember the last major smog in 1962; I couldn’t see either side of the pavement and barely managed to get home.
I’ve lived in the borough nearly all my life and I’m sickened that we are seeing more bad air days. I will do everything I can to improve air quality for ourselves and our children, not least because of the associated dangers of climate change.
Climate Change is the single most important issue facing us worldwide, and time is running out to take the action needed to reverse the catastrophic damage already caused to the planet.
Labour recently used their time in an opposition day debate to propose and unanimously pass a motion which declared a climate change emergency, calling on the government to take action commensurate with the emergency.
Unfortunately, the government’s response has been to ignore the motion. This isn’t good enough and I fully recognise the need to pressure the government to take this issue seriously, which includes taking to the streets to make our voices heard.
It is no longer possible to tackle economic and social injustice without also tackling climate change. The impact of climate change is and will be felt hardest by the most vulnerable and those who contribute the least to Global Warming while those with the most power, who refuse to take the action needed, can afford to insulate themselves from its worst effects.
This cannot continue. We need a Green new deal and a revolution in our thinking around climate change in this country and across the world to save our planet and create a just and equal society. I will continue to fight for that in and outside of Parliament.