A review of the Defra Daily Air Quality Index (DAQI) for 2020, by energy company E.ON, compared the data with the same period in 2019.
The DAQI provides daily scores out of 10 for air quality levels (10 being the worst air quality) and analysis found that the average figure across the UK for 2020 is 2.81 – an improvement of 2.9 per cent on 2019’s average of 2.90.
E.ON has analysed the 2020 DAQI as a continuation of its ‘Change the Weather’ service, which launched in November to help media include air quality information within daily weather forecasts.
Changing the weather
As a result of the campaign, 18 news outlets – circulating to over a million people every day – have so far changed their weather reporting to include air quality scores alongside the usual wind, rain and sunshine.
Michael Lewis, Chief Executive of E.ON UK, said: “It is encouraging to see some year-on-year improvements in average air quality levels, but some research now shows air pollution levels are returning to their pre-lockdown peaks. No level of air pollution should ever be deemed safe and there is still work to do. 2020 has been an anomaly for many reasons and we must ensure we build on the momentum it has given us for cleaner air.
“That’s why we’ve launched ‘Change the Weather’, with the goal of getting as many media outlets as possible to include air quality information in their weather forecasts.
“The more people are aware of the problem, the more they will think about the actions they can take to be part of the solution.”
Missing the clean air
A survey, also commissioned by E.ON, of more than 4,000 adults in the UK found almost two thirds of people said they miss how clear the air was during the first national lockdown.
Nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) stated air pollution is an issue the British public needs to know more about.
And just under three-quarters (72 per cent) believe it’s as important to include air quality information as it is the pollen count in weather forecasts.
It also emerged 68 per cent would do more to help the environment if they had daily reminders on the quality of the air they breathe.
Doing more could translate into simple steps respondents said they would take, such as turning off lights at home (34 per cent), using their car less (27 per cent) and buying fewer things manufactured using fossil fuels (25 per cent). Beyond its ‘Change the Weather’ initiative, E.ON also makes it easier for people to tackle air pollution by providing 3.4 million customers’ homes and eligible small business customers with 100% renewable electricity at no extra cost1 and offering a range of sustainable solutions.
Meteorologist, author and broadcaster Clare Nasir said: “E.ON’s Change the Weather service is close to my heart for many reasons.
“As a meteorologist and clean air campaigner for the last 20 years I know first-hand that air pollution is a public health issue that affects us all, from babies to the fittest adults as well the elderly and vulnerable.
“As a parent, I want my daughter growing up in a world where the air is clean. Raising awareness about air pollution and sharing information on how each of us can help reduce the levels of air pollution is vital.
“I completely support E.ON’s commitment to helping people better understand air pollution, allowing us to make informed choices and put pollution on the map.”
For more information about the Change the Weather service from E.ON, visit eonenergy.com/change-the-weather