Natalie Bennett believes air quality could be improved if alternative means of commuting, such as public transport, were promoted more effectively.
She launched the ‘Let Sheffield breathe’ campaign after air pollution was linked to around 500 premature deaths per year in the city.
Bennett has said that whilst individual action is great, local people need to change the system so that everyone can travel comfortably, affordably, and have clean air to breathe.
She said: “In 2012, Sheffield Council introduced a strategy to tackle air pollution. It aimed to lower levels in the city below the legal maximums by 2015.”
However, the scheme failed, and the former Green Party leader believes this may have been due to the lack of strong action in reducing traffic and congestion.
Bennett is now the Green Party candidate for the Sheffield Central seat.
The State of Sheffield 2017 report, published on 14th February, highlighted the importance of improving the city’s air quality this year. Conducted by the Sheffield First Partnership, it highlights the actions which need to be taken to improve the economic and social growth of Sheffield.
The report also highlights two of the key problems facing the city as being how to adapt to the outcomes and causes of climate change, and how to counter and respond to growing inequalities.
The World Health Organisation have found close links between air pollution and several illnesses including underdeveloped lungs in children and heart attacks and strokes in adults.
Bennett and the Green Party highlighted the suburb of Darnall, Sheffield, to be among the worst affected by these issues. The area, which sits beside the dual carriageway of Sheffield Parkway, has high levels of poverty.
John Grant, a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, said that in order to successfully combat the impending effects of climate change and air quality: “We have to contemplate a degradation of our lifestyle associated with a lack of personal transport.”
The Sheffield-born father of two from Handsworth believes that less of a reliance on cars could improve both air quality and the quality of life for people in towns and cities.
We have to contemplate a degradation of our lifestyle associated with a lack of personal transport
If this were to happen, John believes it would actually improve commuting times in the city, as buses could run more efficiently without being hindered by “thousands of inefficient cars.”
Tonight, Mr Grant will be speaking about the issues of climate change and improving air quality in Sheffield. His talk will take place after a film screening organised by the Hallam Environmental Society. “How to boil a frog” will screen from 6pm to 8pm at Sheffield Hallam’s Charles Street campus.
Tackling air pollution: In Praise of Air was one way Sheffield endeavoured to combat air pollution in the city. The canvas was mounted on the wall of the Alfred Denny building in the city and was 20 metres high, covered in a material that sucked pollution from the air. It was taken down after having removed two tonnes of nitrogen oxide from the environment.