According to Public Health England, poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Long-term exposure to dirty air causes respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as lung cancer. More information here.
Air pollution now causes more than 64,000 early deaths every year – more than smoking – see this article for details.
Air pollution levels in Oxford are in breach of WHO safe levels at every Oxford address we have checked using the Address Pollution site – some had more than double WHO limits of some pollutants. Check your own address!
Action 1: Spread the Word!
Check the pollution levels where YOU live using the Address Pollution site. Screenshot your results and share on social media, encouraging your friends to do the same. If you like you could also express support for the Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill, also known as ‘Ella’s Law’, which was introduced to Parliament by Baroness Jenny Jones in May, and would force the government to bring air quality levels in all communities up to WHO standards. More information about Ella’s Law here.
Use the hashtags #EllasLaw and #CleanAirDay
Action 2: Call for Free Bus Travel
To improve our air quality, we need to reduce car journeys and make Oxford a Low Traffic City. Providing FREE bus travel would help people leave their cars at home – and help the least well off, who often don’t have access to a car.
56 European localities already have Free Fare Public Transport. Operating a free bus system across the whole of Great Britain would cost around £3.5 billion a year: if that sounds like a lot, compare it to the £27 billion roads budget! For more detail of the case for free public transport see this article.
ACTION: Please send your MP a short email telling them you are worried about air pollution and calling for free bus travel. Use the information above to help you. Ask them to pass on your concerns to Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport. The easiest way to email your MP is using the Write to Them website.
If you prefer, you could copy and paste the text at the bottom of the page into your email – though more personal messages are more effective!
Action 3: Support local traffic reduction plans
Oxford City and Oxfordshire County councils are working together on a plan to reduce traffic levels and emissions in Oxford. Their plans include new traffic filters to restrict car journeys across the city, an expanded ‘Zero Emissions Zone’, and improvements to public transport. The expanded ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ are part of this larger plan to reduce car journeys and encourage greener travel. See here for more details of the plans.
ACTION: Please email your county and city councillors saying you are in favour of the new measures – and tell them YOUR vision for a Low Traffic Oxford. You might also like to look out for the formal ‘consultation’ later in the summer.
Again, the easiest way to find out who your councillor is, and to send them a message is via Write to Them.
Action 4: Join us!
We are in a climate and ecological emergency. Experts tell us that governments and corporations are failing to take the action needed to keep our children and our planet safe.
Extinction Rebellion Oxford is made up of local people who feel the urgency of the situation and know it’s time for action. Everyone is welcome! There are many ways to get involved, from actions on the streets to emailing MPs or corporations. Start your path into your local group from our Get Involved page.
Template letter to MP
Dear <name of MP>,
Public Health England has said that poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK as it can cause chronic conditions such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases as well as lung cancer, leading to reduced life expectancy. Air pollution levels in Oxford are in breach of WHO levels at every address that we have checked using the air pollution app at https://addresspollution.org/.
We urgently need to reduce car use and one of the best ways to do this is to increase bus use.
The government could operate a free bus system in Great Britain for less than £3.5 billion a year (equivalent to annual revenue from bus tickets before the pandemic) according to the Institute for Public Policy Research: a fraction of the roads budget of £27 billion.
For the sake of your constituents, please could you lobby Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, to implement free bus fares for all in Great Britain and suggest this as party policy.