London Deputy Mayor for Transport Isabel Dedring speaks at The Atlantic's CityLab 2015 summit in London. Melanie Leigh Wilbur

“The same people who say it’s unacceptable that little Bobby has asthma will get in their big SUV and drive their child to school,” says London Deputy Mayor for Transport Isabel Dedring.

People just aren’t being vocal enough about pollution in London. That message comes not from a fringe environmental group but from the city’s own Deputy Mayor for Transport, Isabel Dedring. During an interview at The Atlantic’s CityLab 2015 summit in London Monday, Dedring cited statistics that suggested an alarming rate of pollution-related premature death in the city—a rate that nonetheless had not yet fully mobilized public outrage.

“Everybody should get a lot more exercised about air pollution than they do, because it does have very obvious and immediate health impacts. We did a study showing 4,300 people in London are dying prematurely because of air pollution. Now the level is probably three times higher than that because of other materials we hadn’t taken into account.”

Dedring says those figures come from a study lead by Kings College London, commissioned by the Mayor’s office. The figure of 4,300 Dedring cites for premature deaths concerns those caused exclusively by particulate matter. Since then, she says, the Mayor’s office has commissioned further studies on the effect of nitrous oxide pollution, which found it caused the premature deaths of between 11,000 and 12,000 Londoners annually.

While these figures would cause anyone concern, Dedring pointed out the difficulty of building momentum behind getting people to change their personal behavior.

“The same people who say it’s unacceptable that little Bobby has asthma will get in their big SUV and drive their child to school,” Dedring said. “So people don’t connect their own behaviors with the experience of pollution out on the street.”

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: An elderly resident of a village in Japan's Gunma Prefecture.
    Life

    In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted

    Facing declining birthrates and rural depopulation, hundreds of “marginal villages” could vanish in a few decades. But some small towns are fighting back.

  2. Equity

    Bernie Sanders and AOC Unveil a Green New Deal for Public Housing

    The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would commit up to $180 billion over a decade to upgrading 1.2 million federally owned homes.

  3. Life

    Tailored Place-Based Policies Are Key to Reducing Regional Inequality

    Economist Timothy Bartik details the need for place-based policy to combat regional inequality and help distressed places—strategies outlined in his new book.

  4. Design

    How Advertising Conquered Urban Space

    In cities around the world, advertising is everywhere. We may try to shut it out, but it reflects who we are (or want to be) and connects us to the urban past.

  5. a bike rider and bus riders in Seattle.
    Perspective

    There’s No App for Getting People Out of Their Cars

    “Mobility as a Service” boosters say that technology can nudge drivers to adopt transit and micromobility. But big mode shifts will take more than a cool app.  

×