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Diesel is sending us all to an early grave

April 28, 2009 4:01 PM

After years as a BBC war correspondent and an environmental campaigner I really thought there was little more that could shock me when it comes to man's ability to destroy, but what I heard at last week's meeting of the Camden Council's all-party Sustainability Task Force appalled me.

According to two of the country's leading experts on air quality - Prof Frank Kelly of Kings College London and Simon Birkett of the Campaign for Clean Air in London - diesel fumes are basically sending us all to an early grave and very few of us know anything about it. It's the equivalent of a lifetime of heavy smoking. For our urban children it means their lungs never fully develop. But the latest evidence is that it doesn't just lead to lung diseases like asthma. Diesel soot particles are so minute that they get into our bloodstream and cause heart diseases. And for those with diabetes pollution seems to worsen their ailment.

The message is clear - we need to stop using diesel. It's 5% better than petrol in climate change terms but it's 17 times worse in health terms. Electricity sourced from renewables and biomethane from food waste (which we've been trialling in Camden) have got to be the way forward.

Cllr Alexis Rowell

Camden Eco Champion &

Chair, Camden Sustainability Task Force