A Catholic eco-theologian has called on the faithful to share transport in an effort to lower air pollution.
Dr Edward Echlin, an Honorary Fellow at Leeds Trinity University, pointed out that everyone has responsibilities, under God, for created life on this planet.
“Our responsibilities include provision and protection of clean healthy air for humans, animals, and plant life,” Dr Echlin told The Universe.
Air pollution is linked to the early deaths of about 40,000 people a year in the UK, causes problems such as heart and lung diseases and asthma and affects children’s development.
Dr Echlin pointed out that cars produce large amounts of air pollution, and that something must be done in order to reduce it, and it’s detrimental effects.
“Employees of large companies persist in transport to and from work alone in their cars,” he said. “Parking and unparking cars at homes is a source of nitrogen dioxide and lone drivers park where children play.
“We are responsible for healthy air and should insist, as Christians, that people share transport,” he added.
Dr Echlin’s call comes as recent figures show the Government’s failure to bring down the number of regions across the UK with illegal levels of air pollution, despite being ordered to by the courts.
At the end of 2016 the UK had the same number of zones with illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as in 2015, despite a Supreme Court order to bring pollution down as soon as possible, environmental law firm ClientEarth said.
New figures show that 37 out of 43 zones across the UK are still in breach of pollution limits. Some parts of the country, including London, have seen annual levels of nitrogen dioxide fall in the past few years, though they are still well above the legal limits.
However, other areas, including Bristol, Portsmouth and Teeside, have seen air pollution rise slightly since 2013.
ClientEarth first launched action against the Government in 2011 over its failure to keep within European Union limits for harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide, winning rulings in both the High Court and Supreme Court.
Ministers published court-mandated air quality plans in December 2015, but ClientEarth launched a fresh legal challenge last year on the basis the moves were inadequate and won a ruling that required new plans to be published in 2017.
Picture: Traffic on the M5 motorway, Somerset. (Ben Birchall/PA).