Poor suffer most from pollution
Environmentalists and political parties would secure wider public support if they were more effective at linking environmental issues to poverty and ill-health, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr). In a new report published today (Friday), ippr says rather than thinking there are votes in rare birds and pandas, environmentalists should be linking up poverty, pollution and the quality of local environments.
ippr‘s research says industrial sites are disproportionately located in deprived areas, while children living in deprived areas are five times more likely to be killed by a car. The report shows that in deprived communities, lack of access to clean air and green spaces can often exacerbate respiratory diseases, like asthma, and other health problems such as obesity.
Julie Foley, ippr Senior Research Fellow, said: ‘In developing countries, environmental issues are so bound up with issues of poverty and distributive justice that they are almost indistinguishable. In the UK, the same dynamic is in play, with our poorest communities often most affected by environmental problems but the links have not been made effectively.
‘For environmentalists, making the connection between environmental protection and distributive justice should underpin their understanding of sustainable development. It is the interaction between people and the environment that offers greater appeal and why there simply aren’t any votes in birds and pandas.
‘The Government needs to better recognise that looking after and making better use of the local environment can help to improve public health. Their should be greater integration of environmental and poverty concerns when developing local regeneration strategies.’
Margaret Beckett MP, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘This report shows that linking social and environmental policy is necessary to ensure we genuinely tackle the root causes of ill-health, poverty and disadvantage and deliver significant economic and social dividends in the form of jobs, economic progress and stronger communities.’
The report considers the links between sustainable development and social justice across society – at the global, national and local levels.
Graham Duxbury, Groundwork UK considers how we should go about regenerating deprived communities and assesses the impact of the Government’s Sustainable Communities plan.
Tony Grayling, ippr examines the implications for social justice in an increasingly mobile society within the context of the Government’s Ten Year Plan for Transport.
Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth makes the case for strengthening the link between climate change and international development policy.
Julie Foley, ippr discusses the social justice issues that will emerge from the delivery of the Government’s Energy White Paper ambitions to improve renewable electricity use and energy efficiency.
Paul Ekins and Simon Dresner, Policy Studies Institute highlight the growth in household waste and identify policy options for better combining sustainability and social justice.
David Baldock, Institute for European Environmental Policy outlines recent developments in agricultural policy and the potential social justice tensions that could arise from the higher costs of more environmentally sustainable farming and food production.
Sustainability and Social Justice, edited by Julie Foley with a foreword by Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, is available from www.centralbooks.co.uk
Source: ippr, www.ippr.org.uk