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Closed petition Find time to take the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill through the House of Commons

This Bill has been agreed by the House of Lords with cross-party support and we want the Government to find time to take it through the House of Commons, so that it can become law:

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This Bill contains provisions to ensure the human right to breathe clean air and prevent the deaths of children and other vulnerable people, whilst helping to protect the environment and mitigate climate change.

The current law does not adequately do this. This petition calls on the Government to find time to take the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill (also known as Ella's law in memory of Ella Kissi-Debrah) through the House of Commons, as a measure to achieve clean air, and prevent future deaths, with around 38,000 people dying from air pollution yearly.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

13,183 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 26 January 2024

The Government’s comprehensive existing legal framework for air quality already gives us the powers we need to drive down air pollution and its damaging effects on human health and the environment.

Read the response in full

Latest published figures (which go up to the year 2021) show that air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010, with emissions of nitrogen oxides down by 45%, fine particulate matter down 10% and sulphur dioxide down 73%.

Yet air pollution remains the greatest environmental threat to human health, and we know that there is more to do to protect people and the environment from its harmful effects. As such, the government fully recognises the positive intention behind the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, however, we already have a comprehensive existing legal framework that allows us the capability, accountability and ambition we need to make effective interventions to drive down air pollution.

The Environment Act 2021 strengthened our legal framework, including by allowing us to set two new targets for fine particulate matter, the pollutant most damaging to human health. Our dual target approach will ensure reductions where concentrations are highest as well as reducing average exposure across the country by over a third by 2040 compared to 2018, making a significant contribution to improving public health.

We are now focusing on delivering the necessary policy interventions to continue improving air quality as set out in our Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 and our Air Quality Strategy. This includes:

• Continuing to support to 64 local authorities with £883 million of funding specifically to develop and implement measures to address their NO2 exceedances in the shortest possible time.

• Improving our regulatory framework for industrial emissions to better reflect our priorities for the environment and to support businesses in innovating and delivering net zero by exploring how we integrate greenhouse gases into that same framework to drive forward our environmental and climate goals in tandem.

• Tackling domestic emissions by improving stove and fuel standards.

• Reducing ammonia emissions by using incentives in our new farming schemes.

• Reviewing how we can improve air quality communications to the public to ensure that people, and vulnerable groups in particular, have the information they need to protect themselves and understand their impact on air quality.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Overdue Government response to petition chased by MPs

The Petitions Committee, the group of MPs who consider parliamentary petitions, has written to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about the overdue Government response to the petition you signed.

The Committee has asked for the response to be provided, and an explanation for the delay, by Thursday 14 December.

Government departments are meant to submit responses to petitions within 21 days. A response to this petition was first requested by the Committee on 02 October 2023, but the Government has not yet responded.

Because the response to this petition is well over a month late, the Committee has written to the Government asking them to explain the delay, and to provide their response to this petition.

We will share the Government's explanation for the delay, and their response, with you when we receive this.

Minister responds to request for explanation for delay in responding to petition

Last November the Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) wrote to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) about the overdue Government response to this petition. The Committee asked for the response to be provided, and an explanation for the delay in providing this.

The Government has now responded to this petition, and the Minister for Biodiversity, Animal Health and Welfare has explained that Defra has been responding to large volumes of e-petitions and correspondence. The Minister has said that the department continues to review its processes and endeavours to provide on-time responses to e-petitions.