Dangers of diesel laid bare for all to see

After years as a BBC war correspondent and an environmental campaigner I really thought there was little more that could shock me when it comes to man s ability to destroy, but what I heard at last week s meeting of the Camden all-party Sustainability Tas

After years as a BBC war correspondent and an environmental campaigner I really thought there was little more that could shock me when it comes to man's ability to destroy, but what I heard at last week's meeting of the Camden all-party Sustainability Task Force appalled me.

According to two leading experts on air quality, Prof Frank Kelly of King's College London and Simon Birkett of the Campaign for Clean Air in London, diesel fumes are sending us all to an early grave.

It's the equivalent of a lifetime of heavy smoking. For our urban children it means their lungs never fully develop. But the latest evidence is that it doesn't just lead to lung diseases like asthma. Diesel soot particles are so minute that they get into our bloodstream and cause heart diseases. And for those with diabetes, pollution seems to worsen their ailment.

The message is clear - we need to stop using diesel. It's five per cent better than petrol in climate change terms but it's 17 times worse in health terms. Electricity sourced from renewables and biomethane from food waste (which we've been trialing in Camden) have got to be the way forward.


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We also need to create more greenery to soak up CO2 and other pollutants. We don't have much space on the ground (apart from on our housing estates!) so we're going to have to green roofs and walls. A company which makes living walls gave a fascinating presentation last week which led Camden's Director of Housing to say that he hoped to see some living walls and vertical food growing on Camden's housing estates in the not too distant future. Let's make it sooner rather than later - we have no time to waste.

Cllr Alexis Rowell

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Chair, Camden Sustainability

Task Force

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