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Twin problems of climate change and air pollution

Publication date: 

20 Oct 2016

Ref: 

DOI:10.1136/bmj.i5620

Author(s): 

Kelly FJ.

Publication type: 

Article

Abstract: 

The UK is unique in having incorporated a target for reducing greenhouse gases into primary legislation—the Climate Change Act of 2008. The ambitious goal to reduce CO2 equivalents by 80% by 2025 compared with 1990, although admirable, has the potential to be a game changer in either a positive or a disastrously negative way. If the right choices are made, achieving this target could result in large improvements in urban air quality—a leading contributor to poor health in the UK. But the wrong choices could lead to further deterioration in air quality, as seen after the increased use of diesel for road transport.1 A further poor choice would be to replace oil and coal as fuels with wood or biomass. Although biomass absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows, its combustion emits large amounts of harmful particles.