A number of Smart Transport members have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for tougher air pollution targets, following the inquest into the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah.
The joint letter, co-ordinated by Smart Transport member UK100, has been signed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Mayor of the West of England, Tim Bowles and city leaders from Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and the North of Tyne, along with representatives from the business community, including Smart Transport member Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
The group urges the PM to "enshrine in law" World Health Organisation guidelines by 2030 and also calls for a £1.5 billion boost to local and combined authority funding to tackle air pollution.
UK100 research suggests that this funding would remove nearly half a million of the most polluting cars and vans from the road and incentivise people into cleaner vehicles, public transport, cycling and walking.
Polly Billington, director of UK100, said: “We cannot wait any longer to prevent more tragic deaths like Ella’s. 40,000 people die prematurely in the UK every year from air pollution.
"We need to act with the fierce urgency of now, not just to serve Ella’s memory, but to prevent more needless loss of life.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that the inquest, which confirmed air pollution played a role in Ella Kissi-Debrah's death, "must be a turning point in the national effort to cut air pollution".
"Including WHO recommended limits in the Environment Bill will be one of the most effective ways of ensuring other families do not have to suffer the same heartbreak as Ella’s have," he said.
"Any delay in ensuring these targets are met would put more children and vulnerable people at risk."
Air pollution contributes to at least 1,200 deaths each year in Greater Manchester. The city will be introducing a clean air zone in spring next year to reduce NO2 level to legal limits but there is a need for greater funding from Government, according to Mayor Andy Burnham.
He said: “We need concrete commitment from national government to provide sufficient funds to support those vehicle owners, many of whom live in the communities most affected, who have made previous vehicle choices in good faith.
“Beyond this, we want to ensure that the Environment Bill includes World Health Organisation standards for air quality, and will continue to press Government for concrete plans and funding commitments to bring that about in a manner that serves the interests of our communities, our businesses and all of our health.”