Ella’s Law is for everyone

A new bill aiming to restrict air pollution and enshrine the human right to clean air has had its second reading in the House of Lords.

Green party peer Baroness Jenny Jones submitted the Bill. Ella’s Law would tackle all types of air pollution – indoor and outdoor. Part of the proposal is to set up a commission to assess government development on clean air, alongside annual evaluations of the latest learnings and academic papers.

Baroness Jones said: ‘I have witnessed politicians of all parties fail to deal with this public health emergency when in government. For the past two decades, I have seen the same press statement from Defra playing down the problem and stating that it is just about solved. Year after year, I have witnessed the Government hiding information about bad air days and air pollution episodes because it might scare the public into demanding action.

‘The result is an invisible killer taking victims while the Government sits by and ministers lose three consecutive court cases over their failure to have a decent plan. My view is that warning people about air pollution and acting to keep everyone safe, mainly the vulnerable, is what Governments should be doing.

‘That is why this legislation to make clean air a human right is essential. This Bill would enshrine the human right to clean air precisely and explicitly in UK law.’

The Government would have to assess air pollution in England and Wales and publish detailed reports, including warnings when needed. A citizen’s commission would evaluate government compliance annually.

Air pollution targets would be updated annually, restrictions on sales of combustion appliances, like wood-burning stoves, would be brought in, and powers would be given to local authorities.

The proposed legislation is named after nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, the first person to have air pollution listed as the cause of death after a fatal asthma attack. Ella’s mother, Rosamund, a long-time clean air campaigner following her daughter’s death, sat in the House of Lords listening to the debate.