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Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Lollipop men & women join Caroline Lucas & Jenny Jones on the campaign trail in Lewisham

Lollipop men and women joined Green Party Leader Caroline Lucas MP and Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones in Lewisham on Tuesday morning to highlight London’s air pollution problem—and the Mayor’s deceptive efforts to cover it up. Over 4,000 people a year die prematurely in London because of poor air quality; and the campaign group Clean Air in London last week revealed that the capital had the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a toxic gas, of any capital city in Europe in 2010. Levels were comparable with those in Beijing.

Lollipop men and women ushered people away from the road, carrying lollipops with messages directed at Boris Johnson, reading ‘Stop polluting; ‘Stop poisoning’, ‘Stop emitting’, ‘Stop distorting’, ‘Stop ignoring and Stop polluting’.

Jones said: “Air pollution is now the second biggest killer in the Capital and is rapidly emerging as the number one public health issue for Londoners. We simply cannot go on as we are. It is a scandal that the response of our current Conservative mayor has been to try and hide the problem rather than take steps to deal with its causes. By electing more Green Assembly Members, London can help ensure that this crucial issue is given the attention it needs by City Hall.”

Caroline Lucas MP said: “During the campaign, Jenny has already changed politics for good. Her calls for greater transparency of politicians’ pay and tax have rocked Westminster as well as City Hall, and London’s political map has been redrawn by the prominent, consistent involvement of a strong Green voice. By voting for Jenny and more Green Assembly members, London can becoming a model for the world in addressing climate change and fighting inequality.”

Green Assembly Members have been campaigning for realistic action to tackle air pollution for many years. The Campaign for Clean Air in London have said that the party has made “the most strident commitment to air quality” in its 2012 London Manifesto. 

The Green Party have issued a 6-minute video on the air pollution problem, entitled ‘Air Pollution: A 21st Century Health Scandal’, including interviews with Simon Birkett, Director of the Campaign for Clean Air in London, Dr David Green from the Environmental Research Group and Dr Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Heath, at King’s College London and ordinary Londoners affected by air pollution.

The Greens manifesto includes an 8-point plan to tackle air pollution:
1. We will make sure that air pollution is monitored in the right places, and warn people about pollution episodes, particularly to vulnerable people such as children and the elderly as part of a campaign to improve the public’s understanding of the problem. 
2. We will require all schools, retirement homes and care homes to develop air quality action plans that lower pollution in their local area and protect children and residents during bad air episodes. 
3. We will tighten up the Low Emission Zone standards and make sure they are properly enforced through vehicle checks, with a new ban on idling for parked vehicles. Introduce a Very Low Emission Zone in central London to exclude all but the cleanest vehicles. 
4. We will retrofit all buses immediately if the technology is shown to work, and make sure that all new buses are low emission hybrid, hydrogen or electric models within one year of being elected, and that the entire fleet runs on this technology by 2016. 
5. We will introduce a pay-as-you-drive scheme, to encourage people out of their cars, and provide the necessary investment in London’s public transport infrastructure. 
6. We will buy a fleet of low emission taxis for drivers to rent if they can’t afford to buy one, and set-up a clean vehicle fund with low cost loans for small and medium sized businesses to replace dirty vehicles with electric equivalents, offering them a discount on pay-as- you-go driving charges so it is cost neutral. 
7. We will work with the Government and Network Rail to reduce emissions from trains and planes. Push for the closure of City Airport, and convert it into the first Community Enterprise Zone. We will lobby to ban night flights over London. 
8. We will ensure all planning applications are air quality neutral, and require new developments to reduce air pollution in the most heavily polluted areas.