A Clean Air Act for the 21st Century

Just sixty years ago, towns and cities across the UK would be regularly smothered by smoke from coal fires burning in homes and factories. The Great Smog of 1952 infamously brought London to a halt and caused thousands of deaths in the weeks and years that followed.

Four years after the Great Smog, our nation came together to solve one of the greatest public health crises of the time. Members of all political parties put their differences aside and worked with one another to create the Clean Air Act, a ground-breaking piece of legislation that phased out coal from towns and cities and helped to protect the health of millions of people for decades after. But, sixty years after the first Clean Air Act, air pollution is still damaging people’s health across the UK – we just can’t see it.

Annually, air pollution across the UK causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths and affects the daily life of thousands of people who have no choice but to breathe dirty air. Illegal and harmful levels of air pollution are found not only in London but in cities like Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow and towns like Truro, Llandeilo and Lanark. Air pollution affects us all, from the womb to old age. It triggers strokes, heart and asthma attacks, increasing the risk of hospitalisation and death, and causes cancer. It is linked to premature births and stunted lung growth in children.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We have the technology and the tools to clean our air. All we need is leaders brave enough to act.

Instead of making the same arguments against taking action that were made 60 years ago we need the government to wake up to our air pollution crisis. Just as we did back then, we now need a new Clean Air Act that is ambitious, fair and far-reaching enough to clean up our air across all of the United Kingdom. We need a Clean Air Act that will:

  1. Tackle the sources of modern air pollution, such as diesel, and accelerate the shift to zero emissions transport;
  2. Improve and strengthen existing legislation, enshrining the right to breathe clean air into law, so the UK has the most ambitious air quality legislation in Europe;
  3. Make the UK a world leader in clean technology, creating the jobs and industries that will help us, and others, clean up our air.

Join our campaign for a new Clean Air Act and together we can make sure everyone has the right to breathe clean air.


Our goal is to translate the growing public demand for political action on clean air to Members of Parliament and to the UK government. We want to draw attention to the work of local leaders who are improving air quality and the businesses that are supporting them. By working across civil society, the public sector and business we will campaign for legislation that enshrines the right to breathe clean air into law and makes the UK a world leader in clean technologies and solutions. We can do this but we have to work together.


Across the country, people are speaking up for the right to breathe clean air. Over the next few months there are going to be many opportunities to add your voice so please sign up to be kept up to date of national and local activities happening.

If your organisation would like to get involved then contacts us at cleanairact@clientearth.org for more information.

You can read more about what we think the new Clean Air Act has to address here.


We’re a group of health, environmental and transport organisations calling on the UK government to take meaningful action on air pollution. We see the campaign for a new Clean Air Act as a way to connect and strengthen the existing work of organisations tackling air pollution, while simultaneously articulating a positive national vision around which to mobilise the general public. The intent of the new Clean Air Act is to provide city and national leaders with the tools and the public mandate to take immediate and long-term action on air pollution. This is a collective problem and it will take coordination at all levels of government to solve it. Our current partners include:


4 Responses to A Clean Air Act for the 21st Century

  1. […] To find out more about the campaign you can visit the website here. […]

  2. Tracy says:

    I have copd an im joining your campain

  3. […] is part of a new coalition that has launched today to campaign for a new Clean Air Act to help deal with the country’s toxic and illegal levels of air […]

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