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10th June 2024

Health leaders cycle to inspire action on air pollution and the climate crisis

Health professionals including doctors, nurses, nutritionists and paediatricians cycled around Regent’s Park on Sunday 9 June to inspire action on air pollution, active travel and the protection of green city spaces.

The cycle, which has been coordinated by the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, takes place during Great Big Green Week which is encouraging people to swap together for good.

The health professionals hope to inspire people to swap cars for bikes to help improve air quality while also enjoying the benefits of being physically active and connecting with nature.

Chair of the UK Health Alliance, Richard Smith, said: “The climate emergency is a health crisis. We want to draw attention to the threat to health from the planetary crisis and show that taking actions we need to take could improve health. Health professionals have an important voice in advocating for action to address the planetary crisis and we hope this cycle will inspire others to act.”

Air pollution is linked to about 38,000 deaths every year in the UK, and interventions to limit air pollution are critical to protect lives, particularly children and others who are vulnerable. Green spaces in urban centres provide a cooling effect from rising temperatures and space for people to be active and socialise, bringing mental and physical health benefits. Active travel routes through urban green spaces are a valuable solution for protecting people’s health and the environment.

Camilla Kingdon, Past President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Chair of the Healthy Air Coalition, said: “The climate crisis couldn’t be more urgent and children have the biggest stake in it.  Whether it is the direct impact of extreme heat on young children, or the indirect impact of climate change causing food insecurity leading to malnutrition, increasing infectious diseases and so much more – children inevitably are disproportionately impacted.  Healthcare professionals are acutely aware of how vulnerable our patients are and this is why so many are taking part in this cycle ride, hoping to spread the message and inspire others to take action.”

The cycle is part of Ride for Their Lives – a global campaign to protect children from the disastrous effects of air pollution and the climate crisis. Initiated and led by paediatric healthcare professionals, it aims to inspire action on these issues. Other rises are taking place across the world.