AS parents, we strongly support the new Edinburgh low emission zone (LEZ), due to come into force on June 1, as an important step towards the bold, transformative, just policymaking that our children and communities urgently need.

Air pollution is a human rights violation and the largest environmental health risk we face today, causing approximately seven million premature deaths across the world, and 36,000 in the UK, every year. Children are more vulnerable to toxic fumes as their bodies are smaller, their lungs are developing, and at street level they are closer to car exhausts. The European Environment Agency estimates that air pollution kills 1200 under-18s annually in Europe alone.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Scotland's new Low Emission Zones

2024 marks 11 years since the tragic death of nine-year-old Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in London, and five years since a landmark coroner’s case concluded that air pollution contributed to her death. In 2018, Unicef found that children in around 2000 UK schools are exposed to illegal, unsafe nitrogen dioxide pollution. They are especially vulnerable in deprived communities, and one in five children in Edinburgh lives in relative poverty. Last year, more than six in 10 Scots surveyed by Asthma + Lung UK Scotland said they were worried about air pollution at the school gates. LEZs have documented success in reducing air pollution, and have been shown to have numerous health benefits.

This is also part of a much bigger question: put bluntly, whether the world in which we are bringing up our children is “fit for purpose”, never mind the world we are “gifting” future generations. It is less than three years since Scotland hosted international climate summit COP 26. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that global warming must be capped at 1.5C to avoid serious harm to current and future generations. Yet any progress is abysmally slow. Even if governments meet their own 2030 targets, warming could still be between 2.4 and 2.8C, according to Climate Action Tracker, and the Scottish Government has just abandoned its key 2030 target for a 75% emissions reduction. Real, urgent change is needed, and this requires imaginative, compassionate rethinking of all our systems, including the cities we live in.

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In other words, this is about safeguarding our children’s lives and their right to good health, including mental health, but also about giving them what they truly deserve: a present and a future to flourish in. That means green, connected, welcoming cities, safely accessible to pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair users alike, with amazing cultural and educational opportunities. It means clean air, plentiful outdoor space, and affordable, joined-up public transport All this can make adults happier and healthier too.

As we campaign in Edinburgh alongside parents across the world, we are deeply concerned by steps back (such as the recent decision to reopen the Braid Estate to traffic) but encouraged by key steps forward, including LEZs. For further inspiration, our city’s policy-makers might look to Paris, planning to be Europe’s greenest city in less than a decade, or to the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, which committed to its car-free city centre back in 2007 and is now both vibrant and booming.

Elizabeth Cripps, Ruth Findlay and Katie Gerardot on behalf of Parents for Future Scotland

I READ a recent article in The National with a mixture of anger and disbelief. It was headed “Plans to export green hydrogen to Germany” (May 24).

In it Mairi McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy, is quoted as saying it will be a “great export opportunity”.

The article title is self-explanatory and reveals the Scottish Government is well on the way to turning exploratory plans into reality. It appears that Scottish hydrogen exports could potentially meet 22% to 100% of Germany’s hydrogen import demand by 2045. In essence the wind turbines which cover an ever-increasing area of our land will be used to produce hydrogen to power the homes and businesses of Germany.

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The Scottish Government is currently investing our taxes in a foreign-owned factory to manufacture cables to assist in the southward export of wind-generated electricity and in a so-called green freeport to assemble the turbines. It is not entirely clear from the recent article how the hydrogen will find its way from Scotland to Germany. Perhaps the Scottish Government will soon be announcing a sizeable subsidy to assist in building a factory to produce a large number of pipes or an even larger number of road tankers!

Since the 1970s we have seen the export of oil and gas, and now ever-increasing amounts of wind-generated electricity is heading southwards. While the export of hydrogen may well assist in a country’s balance of payments, is no-one in the Scottish Government considering the people of our land unable to heat their homes while their taxes could well be contributing to hydrogen-filled tankers possibly driving past their homes on the way to Germany?

As part of their current election promises the Labour Party are, surprise surprise, suddenly talking about a national (United Kingdom in their case) power company. The SNP conference agreed to that idea some years ago only for the SNP Scottish Government to ditch the idea a few days later. Perhaps it is time for the SNP to revive the concept of a national power company.

Brian Lawson