• How Scotland Became a World Leader in Air Quality

Air Monitoring

How Scotland Became a World Leader in Air Quality

May 02 2022

The following presentation was delivered at AQE 2021. If you or your business are involved in air monitoring, follow the link for updates on next year’s Air Quality and Emissions show, an international exhibition of analytical instrumentation for the monitoring of air quality. 

In 2015, the Scottish government published a five-year plan for tackling air quality, Cleaner Air for Scotland – and, perhaps surprisingly, it is one of the most interesting documents of recent political history. It manages, bizarrely, to be both a momentous turning-point in modern Scottish nationalism and global initiatives to tackle air pollution. One year after the nation voted ‘No’ to independence, Cleaner Air for Scotland was, nevertheless, a testament to the growing autonomy of Holyrood, as it was the first set of policies on air quality that the Scottish parliament had legislated independently of Westminster. Within this independent strategy, an ethics of environmental protection and a commitment to the highest standards in public health began to emerge as indications of autonomous Scotland’s ambitions. 

Indeed, Cleaner Air for Scotland set the stage for Scotland, not England, to become a world-leader in air quality. 

Of the 40 actions outlined in the strategy, 36 of them have been completed in the years since publication – and it’s not like the Scottish government have chosen the lowest hanging fruit. For example, try being the first European country to include the World Health Organisation’s stringent guidelines on PM2.5 in domestic legislation. Or consider that, as a result of CAfS, Scotland are now enforcing the most ambitious sustainability legislation in the world, which demands an end to the nation’s contribution to the climate crisis by 2045. 

And it doesn't stop there. In 2021, Cleaner Air for Scotland 2, a revised and updated set of policies on air quality, was published. As wide-ranging and ambitious as its predecessor, CAfS2 flags up 10 areas of concern for the improvement of air quality. From public health and data handling, to placemaking and the regulation of industry, Cleaner Air for Scotland 2 is set to cement Holyrood’s reputation as one of the world’s greenest legislatures.  

If you’d like to learn all about Cleaner Air for Scotland 2, from inception to implementation, follow the link to reveal an e-Learning delivered by one of the people involved in this landmark piece of legislation, Andrew Taylor. 

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