Air Clean Up

  • Should We Work from Home to Cut Pollution?

Should We Work from Home to Cut Pollution?

Jul 22 2018 Read 1218 Times

A new study from Oxford University has claimed that people should look to cut vehicular emissions in a variety of unusual ways, including working from home, shopping online and socialising via email or video chat platforms.

Calculating the total cost of vehicular emissions in both monetary and health terms, and laying the blame squarely at the door of diesel cars, vans and buses, the study encouraged people to take a novel approach towards improving air quality and reduce transport-related pollution by ostensibly becoming more anti-social.

The real cost

It has been estimated that around 40,000 Britons die prematurely every year as a direct result of air pollution. The latest study from Oxford University claims that over 10,000 of those are directly attributable to the emissions produced by vehicle use, and that 90% of the pollutants caused by transportation are because of diesel cars and buses.

The costs aren’t just being felt in terms of human lives, either. Vehicular emissions cost the British economy nearly £6 billion in health bills, although making small changes could have a huge impact. According to the charity Global Action Plan, undertaking 25% of all car journeys with a bike or on foot could save the UK £1.1 billion each year.

If you really must drive, switching to cleaner modes of transportation could also have a huge impact. Harnessing the environmental power of electric vehicles (EVs) could help to save as much as £360 million per year for every one million diesel cars which switch to electric.

Top of the leader board

Unsurprisingly, the Oxford study concluded that London traffic had the biggest impact on the NHS budget, costing the service £605 million every year. The average car in the UK capital was responsible for £7,714 in health costs per annum, while diesel vehicles operating in the city centre could account for double that amount.

Indeed, diesel engines were found to be five times more damaging to the environment than petrol ones, and as much as 20 times worse than electric-battery ones. If car owners could not afford or did not want to substitute their diesel vehicle for a more environmentally-friendly option, it would be best for them to forego travel altogether, according to the authors of the Oxford study.

“Options you can do today include tele-shopping, tele-working, tele-conferencing or tele-socialising,” the study recommended. But while consumers can have a small but significant impact on emissions, the real change must surely come from the top down. The Conservative government released its Clean Air Strategy earlier this year, with critics claiming it was too vague in its targets and did not go far enough. However, one positive point of the Strategy was Prime Minister Theresa May’s stipulation that all new vehicles in the UK must be free from emissions by 2040.

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