The European Commission (EC) has given the UK a ‘final warning’ over pollution levels, with 16 cities exceeding Air Pollution limits including London, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow. Germany, France, Italy and Spain have also been served with warnings. With the EC saying that it could take the matter further to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), if they did not work to resolve the issue.

Per EU law if a member breaks the air pollution level then it must implement air quality plans to bring that level back down.

Public health warnings

Within the EU approximately 400,000 premature deaths are directly linked to air pollution levels and since the Montreal Protocol and last year’s Kigali Amendment, global organisations have been working to improve air toxicity levels for decades.

Friends of the Earth stated that its ‘shameful’ that the UK breached limits, with post-Brexit concerns over domestic legislation.

Over 40,000 people die each year prematurely in Britain, around 10,000 of those alone are Londoners. These are known as ‘attributable deaths’ and it is estimated that you are 6% more likely to die prematurely if you live in a city with high air pollution, however, the figure can range anywhere between 1 - 12% in reality.

Whilst the statistics aren’t fully reliable it is the only model that we can go on. The BBC produced a short video on air pollution and entirely undermined the figures being branded, and this could theoretically lead to a distrust of figures produced in the future that could undermine tackling air pollution levels.

Whilst it is difficult to quantify the amount of premature deaths that are caused by air pollution, the effects are scientifically backed up. Despite the great strides made since the Montreal Protocol, there is still a significant amount of work to be done and more research must be carried out to determine how severe the effects are.


Within the European Union (EU) we must abide by EU law when it comes to air pollution levels and because 16 of our cities have breached those laws, the EC have issued us with a final warning. The concern comes with what the government plans after the UK has left the EU, because the Brexit White Paper made little mention of environmental or climate change issues.

The Great Repeal Bill will be used to remove all EU regulations and legislation that has been built into our laws, with the government saying they will implement measures that will protect Britain. However, with the approval of fracking, nuclear and defunding of renewables such as solar power through taxes, it is questionable that they will pursue with important environmental measures.