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Greater Manchester becomes UK’s first ‘BreatheLife’ region

Greater Manchester has reaffirmed its commitment to tackling air pollution by becoming the UK’s first member of the World Health Organisation and UN Environment-led BreatheLife cities network.

Greater Manchester has reaffirmed its commitment to tackling air pollution by becoming the UK’s first member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN Environment-led BreatheLife cities network.

BreatheLife membership gives local authorities access to technical advice and resources to tackle air quality, as well as the opportunity to share best practice with other BreatheLife cities across the globe. 

WHO and its partners in the UN Environment and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition invited Greater Manchester to apply for BreatheLife status after reviewing the city’s actions, plans and ambitions to reduce air pollution.

Tackling transport

In Greater Manchester, 65 per cent of nitrogen oxide and 79 per cent of particulate emissions – the most serious air pollutants – come from road transport. 

To tackle this challenge, Transport for Greater Manchester developed a Low Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan to reduce emissions from road transport by changing travel behaviour, managing emissions, greening vehicle fleets and raising awareness.

“Air quality is one of the most important challenges facing Greater Manchester. While air pollution is falling in our region, we need to do more to make sure it falls further to protect the health of all our communities”, said Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester.

“Doing nothing isn’t an option, and becoming a BreatheLife city region further demonstrates our commitment to tackle air quality, with definite targets to be met.”

‘Great direction’

To mark its membership, Greater Manchester has now pledged to achieve the WHO’s air quality guideline for fine (PM2.5) particulates of 10 µg/m2 by 2030.

Dr Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator of the BreatheLife campaign, described it as “a great direction” for the city region.

“Achieving the WHO air quality guidelines will improve the health of people in communities throughout the region, and at all ages, young and older.”

UN Environment executive director, Erik Solheim, added: “Greater Manchester deserves recognition as a leader in initiatives to improve the lives of its people, and I'm delighted that the cradle of the Industrial Revolution will help us carry this incredibly important message across the United Kingdom and the planet.”