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From: The Socialist issue 1027, 30 January 2019: Austerity out, Tories out

Search site for keywords: Energy - Transport - Public transport - Nationalise - Birmingham - Socialist

Fresh inquest into killer air pollution: nationalise energy and public transport!

Air pollution cuts short tens of thousands of lives each year in Britain, photo (public domain)

Air pollution cuts short tens of thousands of lives each year in Britain, photo (public domain)   (Click to enlarge)

Hannah Davis, Birmingham Central Socialist Party

The family of nine-year-old Ella Roberta have been allowed to apply for a new inquest into the wrongful death of their daughter.

Ella died in February 2013 after spending three years in and out of hospital due to seizures and asthma attacks.

If the appeal is successful, she could be the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as her cause of death. And the fact is that Ella's death is just one of 40,000 early deaths a year linked to air pollution.

Those with existing respiratory problems such as asthma are most at risk. But studies have now linked air pollution to miscarriages, dementia and heart disease.

London's air is now among the dirtiest in Europe. Other British cities on their 'final warning' from the European Commission - no more than a strongly worded letter - for nitrogen oxide include Birmingham and Sheffield.

In Birmingham, the city council has responded by implementing a 'clean air strategy'. This consists of a clean air zone to charge vehicles entering the city centre such as buses, taxis and lorries, and building a cycle path from Selly Oak to the centre as part of a 'cycle revolution'.

But even these small changes put the onus on individuals to change our lifestyles. It can even punish working-class people forced to rely on their cars for work - like the fuel tax which sparked the 'gilets jaunes' (yellow vests) anti-austerity movement in France.

It makes little to no difference when big industry continues to emit spiralling amounts of harmful gases - without any threat of repercussions.

In January, the government announced plans to build 16 new waste incinerators. Incinerators will then account for over 50% of our waste disposal, and ultimately increase harmful emissions.

Though the Tories claim to be cracking down on air pollution, their measures are completely insufficient, and due over many years when we need change now!

The Socialist Party demands an end to the construction of refuse incinerators. Instead, we stand for nationalising energy and public transport, alongside mass investment in safe and clean energy and transit. This could also reduce dependence on private cars, and allow rapid conversion to electric vehicles.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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Article dated 30 January 2019

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Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo by Dave Murray

Thurrock council workers striking against pay cuts, photo Dave Murray

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