Greentech to combat London air pollution woes

Greentech is being touted as the solution as officials in London, UK grapple with one of the city’s most serious issues: air pollution.

london air pollution

The Politics

Lord Deben, chairman of Britain’s Committee on Climate Change, recently released a special statement raising the red flag when it comes to air pollution on the city’s streets, urging residents and businesses to adopt green technology sooner rather than later.

At the same time, London mayor Boris Johnson released the £8 million second round of his £20 million Air Quality Fund, a program that offers up to £400,000 for individual greentech projects – and comes a few months after Johnson was publicly critiqued in the press for his lack of action on the issue.

Air Pollution Woes

As a point of fact, the city of London has been in breach of the EU pollution limits for five years now and isn’t expected to attain those ideal limits for at least another 15 years. Thousands of deaths each year are attributed to poor air quality and experts at King’s College have said they believe iconic Oxford Street has the highest levels of NO2 in the world.

Nitrogen dioxide mapped by the OMI instrument on the NASA satellite, AURA, and overlaid on GoogleEarth.

Nitrogen dioxide mapped by the OMI instrument on the NASA satellite, AURA, and overlaid on GoogleEarth. | University of Leicester

Greentech in Action

Political posturing aside, there are some interesting ideas being tossed around to help London grapple with a serious health issue. The first round of funding in the Air Quality Fund resulted in effective solutions.

  • Pollution capturing walls – which have also been used to good effect in China – have been set up in several neighbourhoods to protect children and pedestrians. Also called “green walls,” pollution absorbing walls involve vegetation that is grown vertically on the side of a highrise or other building. It is estimated that such walls can help to capture two of the most common pollutants – nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and coarse particulate matter (PM10) – by about 40-60%.
  • Upgrading car share services to emission free electric vehicles with adequate charging stations.
  • A favourite has to be the “green Tardis” project that converts antiquated telephone booths into solar-powered cell phone recharging stations.

Other proposed measures include redesigning road systems to reduce emissions and encourage walking and cycling and cutting freight deliveries through intelligent design of transportation systems.

Sources: BusinessGreen, Go Ultra Low, the Guardian, London Evening Standard and Woodland Trust

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