Fifth day of actions in Bristol to demand clean air for our children

Photo credit: Simon Holliday

This morning XR Bristol’s week of action on air pollution extends into its fifth day. Parents and grandparents from around the city are demanding clean air and action on the climate and ecological emergency for our children’s futures.

Rebels have created a clothes line strung across College Green, with children’s clothes increasing in size. They represent the need for a future in which children can grow and thrive in a healthy city without toxic air pollution. A similar action took place in Fishponds at the same time.

From 1pm children and families will create charcoal pavement art outside Bristol City Hall, representing the impact of air pollution on children’s lungs.

The groups creating the installations say that those in power are ignoring repeated warnings of the health risks of air pollution. We need radical action to prevent carbon emissions rising further still, with all children’s futures at risk as the planet nears climate tipping points.

For our children: rebels create washing line on College Green to demand clean air for our children's futures
Photo credit: Simon Holliday

This week’s report by the Committee on Climate Change warned that the UK is only on track to meet four out of 21 indicators for its target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Despite unprecedented public concern about the climate climate and ecological crisis, national and local government are still failing to meaningfully address the issue. The same greenhouse gas fumes that are fuelling climate breakdown are making Bristol’s air deadly to breathe.

While rebels on the ground below are calling for a better future for their children, a dedicated group of XR Bristol activists are continuing to occupy the roof of Bristol City Hall having stayed out overnight in the open air, roped onto the dome of the tower. They are committed to staying there until the Council commits to ensuring legally clean air across Bristol by April 2021.

Bristol grandparent and St Andrew’s resident Jo Flanagan says she supports the rebels on the roof of City Hall:

“They’re right to be campaigning for our children’s future health and demanding cuts to greenhouse gas emissions in Bristol. We must take action to address the climate and ecological emergency.”

Evidence shows that children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of breathing polluted air. Many of Bristol’s air pollution monitors show illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution in areas close to schools.

Children travelling inside cars are at even greater risk of traffic pollution, according to former Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King. He has warned that exposure to toxic fumes is often far higher inside than outside vehicles.

Peggy Woodward, a midwife who works at St Michael’s Hospital, says:

“I have seen at first hand how the damage from air pollution can occur across a lifetime, from conception onwards. Colleagues across the health professions are reporting alarming new research that shows that poisonous particles, including those from exhaust emissions, can cross the placenta, affecting foetal development.

“Air pollution has been linked to lower IQ among children. Cutting air pollution in Bristol would result in fewer babies being born underweight each year. ”

Dr Harriet Aughey is a paediatric registrar at the BRI, and member of the group Medact who have written an Open Letter to Marvin Rees. She says:

“As a doctor, I regularly see how pollution suppresses the growth of children’s lungs, which can increase a child’s risk of asthma exacerbations and infections like pneumonia.

“Children living near busy roads in Bristol have 5% less lung capacity due to the impact of air pollution.

“This harm to babies and children continues to impact on them throughout their lives. And those in the lowest-income neighbourhoods are often the worst-affected because they live close to busy roads.”

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