Environmental inequality must not be ignored - Environment Agency

Sir James Bevan discusses need to address environmental inequalities as part of the "levelling up" agenda

Tackling the stark inequalities in exposure to pollution, climate shocks and access to green and blue space in cities should form an integral part of the “levelling up” agenda, Environment Agency Chief Executive Sir James Bevan will urge the government today (Tuesday 20 July).

Speaking at the launch of the Environment Agency’s State of the Urban Environment report, hosted by Global Action Plan, Sir James will highlight how poorer communities have higher exposure to air pollution, flood risk and poor water quality in rivers.

Highlighting the environmental inequalities that remain hidden and overlooked within our cities, he is expected to say:

“The inequalities in this country are not just economic. Levelling up the environment so that it is better for everyone is as important as levelling up the economic opportunities.”

“The 59% of the highest earning households in this country are within a 10-minute walk of an accessible, natural green space compared with just 35% of those in the lowest-earning households. There are also racial disparities: city communities with 40% or more residents from minority ethnic backgrounds have access to 11 times fewer green spaces locally than those comprising mainly white residents.”

“Investing in a better environment, whether that’s a park, a flood defence or a clean river, will create jobs and growth. Since the worst environments tend to be in the poorest places, tackling them is a double win it will make poorer communities both greener and richer. And because of the link between your environment and your health, environmental inequalities contribute to associated inequalities in health and wellbeing too.”

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