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Air pollution reduction drive needs 20MPH limits, Green campaigners say

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Environmental campaigners are calling on politicians to introduce default 20mph limits in towns and cities to help tackle air pollution.

The call comes as research shows 81% of Scots believe it is important to tackle air pollution but only 28% have taken steps to reduce the amount they create.

Half of the 28% are ditching the car for walking, cycling or public transport, and the rest are ensuring vehicles are well maintained and do not idle in traffic, a study found.
The research was carried out by Global Action Plan, which organised National Clean Air Day on Thursday.

The Scottish Government said 40 actions had been taken to combat air pollution in the past 18 months, including becoming the first country in Europe to adopt World Health Organisation guidelines on certain types of air pollution and creating four new air quality management areas.

Further actions include working to create the country’s first low emission zone by next year and creating plans to boost walking and cycling.

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna called on the government to go further.

She said: “To give us the clean air we need, the Scottish Government must commit to low emission zones in all our main cities, re-regulate bus companies to increase passenger numbers and increase walking and cycling by making 20mph the default speed limit in cities whilst investing more in active travel infrastructure.”

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said Scotland’s clean air strategy is helping people make changes but more work needs to be done.

Speaking on a visit to Sciennes Primary School in Edinburgh for National Clean Air Day on Thursday, she said: “A year on and the package of actions set out in Scotland’s first clean air strategy is clearly helping people and encouraging them to think about ways of improving the quality of air in our communities. But we can’t be complacent and recognise much more needs to be done.

“National Clean Air Day is an opportunity to think about the small actions we can take, such as choosing to leave the car at home more often or avoiding leaving the engine idling when in the car.

“Employers should also be encouraging staff to travel in a more sustainable way.”

Earlier this week, new data revealed Scotland met its annual climate change target for 2015 despite a slight rise in emissions to 45.5 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent.

Transport has emerged as the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

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