Coronavirus isn’t the only cause of respiratory diseases in Canterbury

Car exhaust

The coronavirus crisis is dominating all of our minds at
present, as we think of the risk to ourselves and the ones we love. The ways in
which communities are coming together to prevent infection and help those
infected are inspirational

But there is another, ongoing crisis which will in the
longer run be as dangerous to at least our children and grandchildren – and
which will need as much community effort to bring under control.

Last June Canterbury city councillors declared a Climate
Emergency. They did not do this lightly. They did it because they had seen the
facts, and know that we have precious little time to stop the heating of our
atmosphere running out of control. We ourselves would have to be blind not to
see the signs of this heating already happening, in the world, and here at

We – and that includes all of us – are burning too much fuel.
Here in Canterbury the biggest single source of carbon emission is traffic. Our
cars, vans, buses and trucks in the district are pumping huge quantities of
carbon, over half a million tons a year, into the air.

Other cities have successfully reduced their heating of the
atmosphere, by setting up ‘low emission zones’. This penalises passage through
the zone of any vehicle that is pumping out more than a certain amount of
carbon, and other poisonous emissions.

This will help to bring down the amount we are contributing
to the overheating of the world. But it will also help to combat a risk to
health that is very immediate. The chemicals pumped out by our exhausts are
major cause of illnesses related to breathing. Children are especially
vulnerable, as the gases lie quite low on the pavement. Wincheap, Military
Road, Sturry Road, St Dunstans and other connecting roads are particularly
dangerous at peak times. Any caring parent would want this poisoning of the air
not to affect their child.

I enjoy my car, I love its convenience. But I don’t want it
to be the cause of respiratory diseases. I would hope that all of us, if we
think of ourselves as a community, as we are doing now in the face of the
virus, would want to support a council that is prepared to take a measure that
would discourage the use of extra-polluting vehicles in the roads mentioned

Courtesy of Environment – The Canterbury Journal