"Could the prime minister tell the House how many people will die from respiratory disease as a result of air pollution before this country meets its legal obligations on air quality by 2025," Corbyn asked at Prime Minister’s Questions at parliament.
Cameron, who said he did not have exact figures available, stressed that new regulations on diesel engines and steady de-carbonization of the country’s power sector were needed to ensure progress on air quality.
"The sad truth is that half a million people would die because of this country’s failure to comply with international law on air pollution. Perhaps you could answer another question: how much does air pollution cost our economy every year," the Labour leader pressed.
"Mr. Speaker, the Royal College of Physicians estimates that air pollution costs our economy 20 billion pounds [$28.1 billion] per year. The failure to deal with air pollution is killing people…Why can’t the prime minister hurry up action to make us comply with international law and above all help the people of this country," Corbyn continued.
Cameron responded by reminding it was his party that passed the Clean Air Act in 1956 to address London’s challenges with smog, which in turn influenced the 1968 act.
Cameron’s administration is accused by environmental groups of cutting subsidies for renewable energy firms and giving substantial tax breaks and funding of the oil industry.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced later on Wednesday major tax cuts for the oil and gas industry along with an effective abolition of the petroleum revenue tax.