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We all share responsibility to tackle air pollution #AirWeShare

Statement from Ruth Duston, OBE, OC

Chief Executive of Northbank BID

I am looking forward to visiting an imaginative and thought provoking installation in Covent Garden this month. The Air We Share Pavilion creatively uses balloons to visualise the amounts of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air. 

The activity aims to raise awareness of air quality issues and build public engagement. 

The BID strongly welcomes this campaign, led by Capco in partnership with Hubbub and King’s College London. We work closely with colleagues at Capco and share the aspiration to take positive action to tackle air pollution. The Air We Share campaign is a great way to start the new year and a good forerunner to our own air quality campaign, due to launch in April. 

We know that air pollution ranks as one of the most important issues to our businesses, local residents and the thousands of people who visit Northbank every day. At the BID it is a priority and we are determined to tackle it. In the Spring we will be launching a year long campaign to raise awareness of the role we all have to play in improving the quality of air in the capital and making healthier lifestyle choices 

The area around the Strand and Aldwych, which sits within the Northbank’s footprint, is one of the most polluted hotspots in London and in fact last year it was the first area in London to exceed the legal limit for NO2 for the year.

We are working with public and private sector partners to improve air quality across the area. Since the BID was established we have developed a number of programmes to both lower air pollution and encourage behaviour change so that people can make healthier choices. 

Together with Westminster City Council and local businesses, our recent Business Low Emission Neighbourhood Street interventions provided greener zones and cleaner, more inviting walking and cycling routes for the 30m people who visit the area annually. But our work must continue if we are to help the country reach the stretch target for zero net emissions by 2050.

We work closely with public sector partners to take the worst polluting vehicles off the roads. The ULEZ introduced last year is undoubtedly making a big positive difference, not least in relation to the introduction of low emission buses. 

But we all have a role to play in addressing air pollution – small changes in behaviour can make a big difference. One of our recent studies done in collaboration with King’s College London showed that by taking a quieter, greener route on their commute Londoners can reduce exposure to pollution by 47%. Also, opting for Click&Collect rather than having parcels delivered at work could reduce central London traffic – and resulting air pollution – by at least 10%.

Air pollution is a thorny challenge for London but is one we are facing head on. It is not something that can be solved by quick fixes or just by Government intervention. If we are to meet the target set a new collaborative approach is required. 

That’s why we support activities like the one running in Covent Garden until the end of January and we are excited to launch our campaign in April. Through our work we are demonstrating that everyone can make a difference and that the key to solving London’s air pollution challenge is partnership.