UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has teamed with the Met Office develop an ambitious programme to improve the UK’s air quality.
The Strategic Priorities Fund Clean Air programme, aimed at cutting air pollution across the UK in order to reduce the health impacts of pollution – particularly in urban areas – is a joint endeavour by the Met Office and UKRI’s Natural Environment Research Council. Under the programme three UK Clean Air Champions have been announced, with the remit of drawing on the UK’s world leading research capabilities to develop solutions to issues pertaining to air quality.
Professor Stephen Belcher, Met Office Chief Scientist and co-lead for the Clean Air programme, said: “The impact of poor air quality is one of the most important environmental risks to health in the UK. Finding solutions to this problem requires experts from a broad range of disciplines and the Clean Air programme provides an opportunity for the first time in the UK to bring these experts together. The Met Office’s expertise in simulating weather and climate means that it is well-placed to play a central role in this work.”
The newly appointed UK Clean Air Champions, announced on Clean Air Day last week, are:
- Dr Jenny Baverstock, Senior Collaboration Fellow at the University of Southampton;
- Professor Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton; and
- Professor Martin Williams, Head of Science Policy and Epidemiology team at King’s College London and former Air Quality Head at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Clean Air Champions said in a joint statement: “We are delighted to be chosen as the UKRI Clean Air Champions. Recognising that atmospheric pollution in the UK is responsible for around 40,000 early deaths and costs of about £20 billion a year to health services and business, our role is to be thought leaders, flag bearers, and strategy owners for the new Clean Air programme. We will bring together outstanding researchers in atmospheric, medical and social science in joined-up thinking and groundbreaking solutions to help create a sound health-based policy, innovative business and trusted public information for the benefit of current and future generations.”