Clean Air Day: A moment to call for action on clean air

By Larissa Lockwood, Director of Clean Air, Global Action Plan

While many of us in the air quality sector will be very busy today with Clean Air Day events and activities, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on what is a different campaign for us this year.

Over the last week, we have watched images of the darkened orange skies over North America and of wildfires in Scotland, and seen a high air pollution alert in London. The importance of ensuring every person has access to clean air has never been so important.

We started the Clean Air Day campaign seven years ago, with the ambition to ensure that people across the UK learnt more about air pollution and how it impacts their health. The good news is that our collective campaigns have worked: most people now understand what air pollution is and, more importantly, they want action for clean air.

With the climate emergency looming, now is the right time for the Clean Air Day campaign to evolve. Our aim must now focus on that action. We must galvanise support for the policies that will enable that vision for clean air for all to be achieved.

That is why part of this year’s campaign is directed at an ask to our decision makers – specifically our local councillors – to support clean air measures. From creating clean air zones to take the most polluting vehicles off our streets, to reallocating more space to walking, cycling and wheeling – we know that cleaning up our air is an opportunity to create communities that are healthier, happier and fairer. I urge you to take a moment today to use your voice and ask for change by writing to your councillor using our easy-to-use template letter.

I am also pleased that this year’s campaign has centred attention on the concerning links between air pollution and mental and brain health. Together with Alzheimer’s Research UK, we are bringing together leading experts to discuss the latest evidence at the APPG on Air Pollution Clean Air Day event this morning at 10.30am – there is still time to register to join us.

We expect to see hundreds of events and activities across the UK today highlighting the need for greater action on air pollution. We’ll see that exciting clean air vision for the future come to life, through school streets, clean air festivals, and a hospital play street at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Events such as the 1st Annual Black Child Clean Air Conference will explore the link between air pollution and inequality. Experts across the UK will use the day to share evidence on air pollution, from workshops offering practical advice to the public, to webinars on how to speak to patients about air pollution.

As always, Clean Air Day is a moment of celebration too, for those who continue to campaign and speak up for clean air. Whatever you are doing today, a massive thank you from me and the Clean Air Day team at Global Action Plan for all your work on this year’s campaign.


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