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Pollution decreases in Bristol under coronavirus restrictions

By lowie trevena, Thursday Mar 26, 2020

Air pollution levels have dropped since restrictions on movement were put in place, according to data collated by the BBC.

The research analysed nitrogen dioxide levels, which is released from car exhausts. The gas is a serious air pollutant and indirectly contributes to climate warming.

The data compared average daily nitrogen dioxide levels from March 19 to 26 2019 with March 17 to 24 2020, the week that prime minister Boris Johnson began imposing restrictions on travel.


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Two locations in Bristol were analysed. St Paul’s saw a decrease from 21.5 micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre in 2019 to 16.1 over the same period in 2020.

Similarly, Temple Way saw a decrease from 45.3 in 2019 to 29.8.

To compile this data, which was conducted across the UK, the BBC analysed average daily emissions at each of its monitoring stations in the eight days since Boris Johnson had told people they should work from home, versus the equivalent week in 2019.

The findings come in the wake of increased conversation and action around climate change, as well as a recent visit to Bristol from teenage climate activist, Greta Thunberg.

Greta Thunberg visited Bristol for a climate strike in February 2020. Photo by Phil Riley

Elsewhere in the city, the Bristol Environmental Sustainability Board unveiled the new One City Climate Strategy in March 2020, outlining how Bristol can become climate neutral and climate resilient by 2030.

Bristol City Council became the first local authority in the UK to declare a climate emergency in 2019 and declared ecological emergency in February 2020.

Main photo by Martin Booth

Read more: ‘Bristol’s One City Climate Strategy is a big, bold and vital call for action’


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