Welcome to the Jungle

It was Clean Air Day two weeks ago. I’ve been following the movement for many years now and every year more and more events are taking place across the country.

This fills my heart with joy that air quality and pollution reduction is a part of more and more conversations across local government, local communities and in the corporate world.

stage light front of audience

This year we decided to have a competition to promote active travel. We set up three stationary bikes in three of our offices and let our colleagues loose on them. For eight hours they pedalled and pedalled and pedalled and collectively covered almost 800km.

We worked out that this was the distance between the three offices, Neath, London, and Oldham. We also worked out that if we had driven this distance (in my euro 6 compliant car) we would have emitted over 80kg of CO2, over 40g of NOx and 4g of particulate matter.

I know this may not sound much but this is just one trip, multiply this by our collective trip making across our little island and you can see why climate change and air pollution are the two environmental crises of our time.

Not only does active travel reduce pollution, but studies also show that walking or cycling for your daily commute or exercise can significantly impact your physical and mental well-being. Not only does it lower the risk of heart disease and obesity, but it also reduces stress and boosts happiness.

Talking of boosting happiness, as you read this (Friday 30 June 2023), I will be sat in a field waiting for rock n roll legends Guns n Roses to play in Hyde Park! They are playing as part of the 17-day musical extravaganza that is BST Hyde Park.

I have been coming to BST on and off for many years, starting with The White Stripes back in 2007. I always felt that Hyde Park was a pretty sustainable location for a festival. It’s Central London locations allows most, if not all, of its revellers to get there by public or active travel.

I’ve been looking at their sustainability policies and they do a lot to minimise the environmental impact of the events. Waste and recycling, energy, procurement, ecology, not to mention transport. There is one gap in their policy though, air quality. I haven’t been able to find anything on monitoring, managing, or mitigating the pollution created by these events.

As one would expect the ubiquitous firework display to signal the headline act is one of the reasons we pay through the nose for our tickets. I for one can’t wait for it but will be looking back at the pollution data captured by our hyperlocal air quality monitors in central London next week to see just how far and wide the impact has been captured.

It just doesn’t get any more rock n roll than that. Watch this space as my next blog will dive into some of our findings.


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