If you didn’t know already, the 17 June 2021 is ’Clean Air Day’ with events held across the UK to highlight why the planet needs clean up its act. Cleaning up our air is the obvious reason why this day is very important but it is much more than just talking about why clean air is key to tackling climate change. The day is about people. While social contact has been difficult during a pandemic, seeing each other on computer screens doesn’t mean that crucial conversations about air pollution go unheard, but getting back out into the open fresh outdoors is paramount to our wellbeing.wri
Clean Air Day? What is it all about?
First things first, the facts are there for all to see. Every year air pollution causes an estimated 28,000 to 36,000 deaths in the UK. Poor air quality leads to heart and lung diseases, it even impacts the lung development of our children. These are not scare stories. This is research and findings from Public Health England. Instead of just highlighting the deaths due to air pollution, the conversation has to be about how we solve these issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognises the threat that air pollution has on our planet and our communities. So here in UK we must hold our national and local government to account as to how they deal with air pollution.
You only have to read the tragic death of nine-year-old girl Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah in Lewisham. Killed in 2013 by air pollution with the inquest held two months ago finding that is made a “significant contribution” to her death. Coroner Philip Barlow even went further to say that there is “no safe level of particulate matter” in the air, he himself called for national pollution limits to be reduced. Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah will be known as the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death. More will follow if we do not clean up our act.
The UK government target to reduce carbon emissions by 2050 is, for some, reasonable but, for other climate campaigners, too slow. Reducing existing legally binding targets for particulate matter to bring them in line with WHO guidelines is of paramount importance. By introducing more public information and making our air cleaner, this tragic death is one example of the many things climate activists and campaigners want to see change to stop people dying unnecessarily. Taking this seriously is surely what the government must do and I do remain hopeful. Bristol and Bath introducing a clean air zone is one step forward to keeping the air of our cities clean. Not everyone will be on board but it takes a calm and kind conversation to encourage people why these measures matter.
Tackling air pollution to combat climate change is essential. For this very reason it is encouraging to see campaigners and people who care about the need for clean air coming together on the 17th June. Led by Global Action Plan, Clean Air Day is bringing people together as one. I admit that it does take some persuasion to bring everyone on board but it can be done with a friendly attitude to help improve public understanding and explain to the public what the science is telling us. This also isn’t about party politics, political ideology and finding ways to divide each other. Searching for common ground and working across political divides is the only way you can achieve change.
Events in Cheltenham
As the publicity coordinator for Clean Air Cheltenham, I am delighted to outline some of the key events taking place in our town on the 17 June as well as some more events over the weekend. From two free session of the Chinese exercise Tai Chi Qigong and a kite flying day, there is something for everyone.
On the High Street do come and say hello to our display alongside the NHS Gloucestershire Information Bus. In partnership with Gloucestershire’s sustainability group Vision 21, health professionals will be available throughout the morning to give advice on how to keep your lungs healthy. Meeting and greeting volunteers and campaigners, you can keep to COVID social distancing and we will be adhering to government guidelines.
During the evening we have a tree walk with Cheltenham Borough Council’s senior Tree Officer Chris Chavasse. It will be a guided walk around Sandford Ornamental Gardens with explanations and opportunities for participants to share their opinions as to how they would approach several management “conundrums” presented by some of the park’s resident trees.
Over this coming weekend come and join us on a cycle through Cheltenham on safe and quiet roads. A big turnout will be important to show local councils that we want better provision for cycling. All ages and all type of bikes are welcome.
To round off our Clean Air celebrations, we also have a kite flying event. Helped by members of Golden Valley Kite Club and Midlands Kite. The Queen Elizabeth II Playing Fields is our base location where complete kites will be available for you to use at a reduced price of £2.
Below is a full round-up of our Clean Air Day events on the 17 and 19 June.
Marking this special day to raise awareness about air pollution will be a benefit to how we communicate with people. For the sake of future generations, cleaning up our air here in the West of England, across the UK and the globe is a basic requirement to save our planet.