James O'Brien is Leading Britain's Conversation.
29 July 2017, 21:02
The government is going to do something about the appalling air quality in our cities.
They decided that something ought to be done when they couldn't see the beer glass in front of their faces through the smog on the river-side terrace at the Palace of Westminster.
They have sprung into action and decided to ban the sale of fossil fuel driven vehicles from the year 2040.
They might as well have said they will do it by 2140. The car manufacturers are already setting themselves more challenging targets than that.
Volvo has said all its products will be electric or hybrid by 2019.
Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City will ban the most polluting cars by 2025, the same year that Norway will ban all diesel and petrol cars.
In Britain, 40,000 people have their lives cut short and children next to areas of high pollution have their health dramatically affected by the cars and lorries that thunder by.
The poor air quality actually stunts the growth of children's lungs, and the government is so blasé about it that the target they have set for doing something about it is 23 years from now.
If you could get high from traffic fumes, they would illegal right now, but you can only get dead, so no rush.
In a comically weak response to such a serious problem the government has announced that in order to cut pollution, lorry drivers will be trained to drive less aggressively.
Good luck with that.
The Department for Transport is to subsidise training for 10,000 commercial drivers this year, as part of government plans to make it look like they are doing something to improve air quality.
The eco-driving courses will teach truckers to cause less pollution by accelerating slowly away from the lights.
If all goes well, they will graduate from their training just in time to be replaced by a robot.
The government say they believe that pollution is caused by poor driving techniques.
It is our fault, rather than the result of successive administrations' supine capitulation to whatever the car giants have demanded to site their factories here.
To educate drivers, and shift the blame, they are going to throw £2.8m at the problem, a sum that is also known as a drop in the acidified ocean.
They will spend more than £2.8m on the carpeting for their offices in the newly refurbished Houses of Parliament, the place they call “work”.
They should order some highly expensive, top of the range air purifiers for themselves while they are at it.
After all, they need to protect themselves and they know not to wait for the government to do anything about it.