London & Bengaluru launch global air quality partnership to tackletoxic pollution

5 DECEMBER 2017 

  • New international air quality partnership network launched by C40 Cities co-chaired by the Mayor of Bengaluru and the Mayor of London
  • London will trial new high-tech air quality sensor technology to boost capital’s fixed air pollution monitoring systems from over 100 to up to 1,000 locations
  • New mobile devices could capture data from hundreds of thousands of sites in London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and the Mayor of Bengaluru, Sampath Raj, today announced that London and Bengaluru will lead a global partnership of up to 20 other world cities on tackling global air pollution. The initiative will be delivered by the C40 Climate Leadership Group.

London will also trial a major new £750,000 ($1 million) cutting-edge sensor air quality monitoring system which will be used to analyse harmful pollution in up to 1,000 toxic hot spots across the city including near schools, hospitals, construction sites and busy roads. ‎

The Mayor is on a six-day trade trip to India and Pakistan. The Mayor made the announcement at a meeting in Delhi, with the Mayor of Bengaluru.

After the meeting, the Mayor met children at the Maharaja Agrasain Public School, taking part in an air quality science class using sensors to measure pollution levels around their school.

The sensors are part of an air quality awareness project, organised by the FIA Foundation charity, running in schools in Delhi, London and Nairobi using a toolkit developed by the London Sustainability Exchange for the Mayor for use in London’s schools. ‎

Air pollution is a global issue that affects people’s health and is responsible for premature deaths in every world city. The Mayor recently revealed World Health Organisation (WHO) data that showed that all Londoners live in areas exceeding legal limits. Indian cities also face air quality challenges, especially in winter when crop stubble burning and weather conditions increase pollution, alongside transport, domestic and power plant emissions. Recently this has caused smog episodes in Delhi with poor visibility and some emergency measures have been implemented around schools.

The air quality network will be managed by C40, the leading global alliance of cities committed to addressing climate change, of which both cities are members. The Mayor of Bengaluru and the Mayor of London will co-chair the network working with up to 20 other global cities to develop solutions to the international air pollution crisis. London will share results from the new air quality sensor monitoring trial which could then be rolled out in Bengaluru, Delhi and other cities tackling toxic air. Bengaluru will host the first network meeting in 2018.

As part of the new partnership, London will be the first city to trial a new technology project that will dramatically increase London’s air quality monitoring network from over 100 to up to 1,000 stationary ‎monitoring sites. The pilot project could also feature mobile monitoring devices, so data will potentially be available from hundreds of thousands of locations across the city. The monitoring pilot will be delivered with C40.

Sadiq is keen to have more vigorous monitoring in areas exceeding air quality legal limits including the 438 worst polluted London schools which are all in areas where the air is illegal. He wants to use the project to strengthen our understanding of some of the most dangerous pollutants, including toxic PM2.5 particles, and identify which areas need further urgent targeted measures to lower pollution levels.

These could include pedestrianising roads around schools, encouraging more walking and cycling, and traffic restrictions. A procurement is being launched today to see which specific sensor technologies and mobile monitoring techniques will be used as part of the pilot, with delivery expected in 2018.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Air pollution is a global problem that harms the lives of millions of people. Only by working together will we help beat this international health crisis and protect people from breathing in air so filthy it damages their lungs and causes diseases. I’m proud today to announce London and Bengaluru will be leading a new air quality partnership. We hope to work with key cities across the world and in India, including with our good friends here in Delhi.

“I’m doing everything in my power to clean up London’s lethal air from introducing the world’s first toxicity charge for older more polluting cars and bringing forward the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, to cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet. I’m pleased my ambitious work will soon be boosted by new state-of-the-art air quality sensor monitoring technology that will help deliver the most comprehensive data on toxic pollution ever.”

The Mayor of Bengaluru, Sampath Raj, said: “The City of Bengaluru is symbolic of the pace of urbanization we are seeing in India and in the global south. The city’s population has grown from 3.5 million in 1985 to nearly 11 million today. While this rapid growth has made the City of Bengaluru the driver of economic growth in the region, creating millions of jobs and market opportunities, the city has also experienced deteriorating air quality as a result of increased traffic congestion, and construction works. As the Mayor of the City of Bengaluru I am keeping a close eye on quality of life in the city and air quality is one such indicator that directly impacts the health and well-being of our citizens.”

C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group has been working with and helping Bruhath Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) over several years now in exposing us to sustainable urban development best practices. We are extremely excited to be co-leading C40’s new Air Quality Network along with London. Together with London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, I look forward to bringing together mayors from cities around the world and sharing our lessons learned, to tackle the urgent need to address air quality in our cities.”

Globally, air pollution is causing 6.5 million premature deaths every year according to the WHO, with cities across almost every continent facing air pollution that breaches health guidelines.

The network will be run under the C40 Cities Climate Leadership group, of which both cities are a member and Sadiq is Vice Chair. Cities from the C40 network of 91 cities will be invited to apply to join the air quality partnership with the first meeting in Bengaluru in 2018.

Mark Watts, Executive Director, C40 said: “The toxic emissions that cause air pollution are also contributing to climate change that threatens to cause devastation to the world’s cities. Mayors recognise how urgently they need to act to clean the air we breathe in our cities, and I’m delighted that London and Bangalore are bringing cities together to accelerate action. The C40 Air Quality Network will help transform the way that air pollution is tackled in cities across the globe.”

Shelia Watson FIA Foundation said: “We know how bad it is for children to breath dirty air, and the terrible impact it can have on their long-term health and life chances. That is why the FIA Foundation is supporting the use of the Clean Air Toolkit by students in this school in Delhi and in two others inKenya and in London, to measure air quality around their schools, and to understand that is affecting their journey to school. The children have also communicated with each other, sharing their experiences and joining their voices in demanding clean air and safe journeys to school. We are delighted that the Mayor of London and of Bengaluru are already responding to this call with the cooperation which they are announcing today.”

In London, the Mayor is doing everything in his power to clean up London’s filthy air including cleaning up the bus fleet, the recent introduction of the world’s toughest new emission standard in Central London, the T-Charge, and confirming he will bring in the ULEZ 17 months earlier than originally planned, in ‎April 2019. Sadiq has also expanded the ULEZ standards to include a particulate matter standard for harmful PM2.5. He is keen to learn from the experiences of other cities to develop additional policies which can deliver further improvements in air quality in London.

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