The Clean Air (Human Rights) Bill [HL] is a private member’s bill. It was introduced in the House of Lords by Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (Green Party).

The bill seeks to improve air quality in England and Wales. It would establish a human right to clean air and would require the government to limit the concentration of pollutants in the air in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and scientific evidence. WHO guidelines for limits are, in most cases, more stringent than current UK limits.

The bill would also require the government to implement targets recommended by the Committee on Climate Change for limits on pollutants causing climate change.

The bill would place duties on some national authorities to exercise their functions so as to work towards clean air. The bill would also establish environmental principles the government and certain national authorities would have to follow when carrying out their duties under the bill and under other air quality legislation.

The UK currently has statutory limits for certain pollutants. These are generally less stringent than WHO guidelines. In recent years, these limits have been adhered to for all specified pollutants except nitrogen dioxide. 

Poor air quality has significant health effects, including increased risk of asthma, cardiovascular diseases and death in the first year of life. Many of the negative health effects are particularly acute for young people, older people and those with pre-existing health conditions. 

The Environment Act 2021 requires the government to set targets for air quality and for reducing concentrations of fine particulate matter. These targets must be set by 31 October 2022. A consultation on these targets is due to close on 27 June 2022.

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