Ed Miliband: improving air quality can help us to grow our economy
Ed Miliband spoke out firmly in favour of action on air pollution in a BBC Radio Manchester interview yesterday, and said he believed it could benefit the economy.
Building on their exclusive investigation into air pollution earlier in the week, BBC Radio Manchester’s Steve Saul raised the fact that there is ‘increasing evidence that air pollution generally is making people ill and costing lives’, and asked the Labour leader if it would be a priority for a Labour government to reduce levels of air pollution.
Ed congratulated them on their campaign and reassured them that a good quality environment was absolutely imperative and that air quality is ‘a very important priority’.
This is certainly good to hear but pretty standard fare. But then it got interesting…
Miliband went on to say that he believes you can grow the economy at the same time as achieving good air quality, by providing ‘the green jobs of the future that we need – that is how you get better air quality in this country and indeed in Manchester’.
As I wrote yesterday, the Healthy Air Campaign are continually frustrated with the current government’s insistence that we cannot afford to take significant action to improve air quality because of the cost to (polluting) industry to clean up their act. Their impact assessment of a possible national framework of low emission zones finds there would be £155 million more benefit than cost, and is without the benefit to green industry as part of the equation. It is extremely promising that Labour seem to recognise that cost to one industry is a boost to a greener industry and represents progress to a greener economy and a healthier population.
The economy is of course going to be the main topic of conversation leading up to a general election, and it will be really important that the debate considers how stimulating the economy can facilitate progress rather than obstruct it. From Ed Miliband’s comments yesterday I’m optimistic that issues like air quality can be an important part of this discussion.
You can listen to the clip here, at 1hr 43mins 51 sec
Demand cleaner air for us all – we make it easy for you to respond to the EU consultation on air quality here.