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Deaths from pollution are on the rise

Paul Davies AM has asked the First Minister to explain how the Welsh Government intends to slow the increase in pollution-related deaths in Wales.

The Welsh Conservative Leader used his question in the Welsh Parliament this afternoon to highlight the Welsh Government’s poor record on meeting emission targets.

Despite declaring a climate change emergency last month, the Welsh Government has achieved only a 14% reduction in Co2 levels in Wales, despite setting a target of 27% by 2020.

In fact, between 2015 and 2016, emissions increased by 5% in Wales compared with an 11% drop in Scotland; according to the UK Committee on Climate Change.

Mr Davies questioned Mark Drakeford’s sincerity over his intended targets for Wales, after the Welsh Government was taken to the High Court last year for failing to bring forward a firm plan to improve air quality.

According to data by Public Health Wales, the estimated number of deaths across the country relating to air pollution have increased from 1,320 in 2014, to more than 2,000 in 2017.

Commenting outside the chamber, Mr Davies said:

“These figures showing a clear jump in the number of deaths relating to pollution levels in Wales must be taken extremely seriously by the First Minister.

“The Welsh Government needs to see the contradictions in its approach to alleviating air pollution levels, as it fails to address the constant congestion near the Brynglas Tunnels in Newport by dithering with the decision on an M4 relief road.

“We also see a continuous decline in bus journeys, as well as an announcement earlier this month of plans to bring back 1970s diesel trains into active service again.

“Welsh Conservatives want to see swift action from the Welsh Government, aided by consistent and reliable data. That’s why I asked the First Minister today to bring forward a Welsh Clean Air Act, to standardise data collection and take a stride in the right direction to keep more people in Wales safe from this public health crisis.”