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To beat air pollution we must urge people out of cars, say researchers

To beat air pollution we must urge people out of cars, say researchers

While CO2 emissions may be reducing, new research shows dust from brakes, tyres and road surfaces contributes to over half of particle pollution from UK road transport and will still pollute the air even when all vehicles are electric.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said the papers ‘make clear that it is not just fumes from car exhaust pipes that have a detrimental impact on human health but also the tiny particles that are released from their brakes and tyres’.

The challenge is a big one, as Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, acknowledged: ‘Brake, tyre and road wear is a recognised challenge as emissions from these sources are not easy to measure,’ he said.

Even then, a fully electric fleet will not solve problems like congestion, urban sprawl and parking, say researches at the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS) in a report released last week.

The researchers want a government strategy that makes it easy to live without needing a car.

‘For many years ministers have adopted the principle of trying to meet demand by increasing road space,’ said Professor Jillian Anable, one of the authors.

‘They need to reduce demand instead,’ she says. ‘Once you own a car, ‘there is a compelling temptation to use it even for simple journeys.’

‘But it is a really expensive investment. If people do not have cars they can spend the money on other things.’

People should be encouraged to walk, cycle, use public transport and car-share wherever possible, she says. 

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