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UK releases Clean Air Strategy, calls for increasing role of bioenergy

JAKARTA (RambuEnergy.com) – The United Kingdom (UK) government on Jan. 14, 2019, issued a Clean Air Strategy, showing its ambitions in achieving a cleaner air goal.

The U.K. Renewable Energy Association said it welcomes the ambitions of the strategy, but called on the government to take into account contemporary evidence on the role of bioenergy in meeting carbon targets.

The 109-page Clean Air Strategy, published by the U.K. Department Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, makes several references to biomass-based energy.

The strategy was issued amid rising concerns over air quality that has detrimental impact on humans’ health.

“At the most fundamental level, our health and prosperity depend on the health of the planet on which we live. From the air we breathe to the water we drink, the food we eat and the energy that powers our homes and businesses, we need to protect and sustain the health of the natural environment,” the report said.

It said the air pollution is the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, and the fourth greatest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity.

“It makes us more susceptible to respiratory infections and other illnesses, and we estimate that the actions outlined in this document could cut the costs of air pollution to society by £1.7 billion every year by 2020, rising to £5.3 billion every year from 2030,” it said.

This Clean Air Strategy sets out the case for action and demonstrates this government’s determination to improve our air quality. In some cases the goals that it has set are “even more ambitious than EU requirements because we want to do all that we can to reduce people’s exposure to toxic pollutants like nitrogen oxides, ammonia, particulate matter, non-methane volatile organic compounds and sulphur dioxide.”

People often think of air pollution as a problem caused by road transport and industrial level burning of fossil fuels. These are two of the central sources of pollution, but industry and the U.K. government have worked together to remedy many of the worst problems by incentivising the use of clean fuels and investing in new technology, the report said.

“We have already secured a significant reduction in emissions since the 1970s. But now this trajectory has slowed. Now we need to tackle other sources of air pollutants that damage human health and the environment,” it said.

Air pollution can be caused by intensive agricultural food production, heating the homes or even cleaning with certain solvents. “We, therefore, need comprehensive action to safeguard our health.”

This strategy sets out the U.K. government’s aim to reduce particulate matter emissions by 30% by 2020, and by 46% by 2030.

Ammonia emissions from agriculture are also increasing, and the widespread use of volatile organic compounds in many everyday cleaning and toiletry products poses a serious indoor exposure risk.

Armed with increased awareness and improved scientific measurements, the government must tackle these problems with a new goal that takes into account the World Health Organization’s guidelines. (*)

Written by Staff Writer, Edited by Roffie Kurniawan (email: roffie.kurniawan@gmail.com)

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