In April this year, parts of London, the south-east and the Midlands were covered by smog. Elderly people and asthmatics were told to stay indoors or to avoid exercise.
The Birmingham Press, courtesy of the Brummie aggregator, has covered the response of BFOE’s Julien Pritchard to the recent report by the Commons Environmental Audit Committee that air pollution is a “public health crisis” causing almost as many deaths – 29,000 deaths annually – as smoking. The BBC reports that the committee found traffic responsible for 42% of carbon monoxide, 46% of nitrogen oxides and 26% of particulate matter pollution and proposed a scrappage scheme for diesel cars to cut emissions and changes to fuel duty to encourage low nitrogen dioxide vehicles as well as low carbon dioxide.
Walking and cycling are advocated as “ultimate low emission” options and some will make the transition. For mass transit, however, installing hydrogen buses with roof-mounted fuel tanks is a good move.
Despite its serious levels of air-pollution, Birmingham has not, as yet, opted to have clean tourist and/or commuter buses and barges
And despite work done in the heart of the city designing a hydrogen-fuelled barge, by Professor Harris’ team at Birmingham University (see Energy Daily’s report from Switzerland) the Mailbox shuttle and other vessels operated by B’ham Canal Boat Services on its large canal network do not use cleaner fuels. And even though pioneering work is ongoing at Coventry University on cleaner vehicles, that city is also afflicted by traffic-related pollution.
Powering a cleaner future: in 2011 the first of a fleet of eight hydrogen fuel cell buses entered service on London’s bus route RV1.
Mayor Johnson sees hydrogen as a universal fuel playing a major role in a clean, sustainable energy future.
America’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), has carried out US Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus Evaluations. Its findings are that ‘transit’ buses are one of the best ‘early’ transportation applications for fuel cell technology.
Will this or the next government ever take suitable action?
Dr Ian Mudway, a lecturer in respiratory toxicology at King’s College London, told the BBC: “The evidence is there. The 29,000 figure is very solid, so really it is a case of acting. But it is a strange one, because it’s their third [report] in five years and it is an attempt to get the government to do anything”.
Other national or state governments have acted: