THE Scottish Government’s Cleaner Air for Scotland Strategy claims it will ensure Scotland has the cleanest air in Europe. But it does not spell out what impact its 43 proposed actions will have on air quality and the actions on transport are mostly re-statements of existing commitments which have so far not been delivered.

If the Government does not promise anything beyond what’s already in current policy at today’s debate then people living in urban areas will be forced to breathe in a toxic soup of dirty air for years to come. Today’s debate in Parliament is an opportunity for the Government to sharpen up its commitments.

Air pollution is causing a public health crisis in Scotland. There are 32 pollution zones across Scotland where councils have declared that levels of pollution are breaking Scottish safety standards which were due to be met years ago.

Toxic fine particles cause 2,000 early deaths annually and cost us over £1.1 billion in days lost at work and costs to NHS Scotland.

The Government needs to commit in today’s debate to getting polluting traffic off our roads by rolling out a network of fully funded Low Emission Zones in our most polluted towns and cities by 2018. It also needs to increase funding for green buses , make advances in smart ticketing technology and discourage car use.

Crucially, the Government must commit to meeting its own Scottish clean air standards by 2020 at the very latest.

Delivering clean air for Scotland will mean significant savings for our health service, further strides towards meeting our climate commitments and making our towns and cities more enjoyable and attractive places. It’s good to have a strategy, but what we need is real action.

Emilia Hanna is a campaigner for Friends of the Earth