Bristol residents take action to get the clean air they want

Our Air Our City action cycling campaign. Bristol. Photo Credit: Mark Dolman

This morning [Sat 20 Feb] residents living in Bristol’s air pollution hotspots are hanging banners from their houses calling on Bristol City Council to solve the city’s air pollution crisis.

The city-wide banner protest is the first action of the Our Air, Our City campaign, organised by a coalition of community, health, justice, and climate action groups representing residents from across Bristol.

The banners have been unfurled in Stapleton, Stokes Croft, St Pauls, Easton, Lawrence Hill, near the BRI, Brislington, and Bedminster. The Bristol residents taking part include families who are suffering the health effects of air pollution, a Black and Green Ambassador, business owners, GPs, and mental health workers.

This week Bristol City Council announced their plans to reach clean air compliance, following several years of consultations and changed plans. They first published plans for a Diesel Vehicle Ban and Clean Air Zone in Bristol in November 2019, only to later cancel them.

Our Air, Our City welcomes the council now taking concrete action, but calls on them to commit to implementation – and to go further to secure healthy air for the whole city in the shortest time possible.

Our Air Our City action cycling campaign Bristol

– Alice Tatton-Brown, coordinator of the OAOC campaign, said:

“We welcome the council’s announcement and hope that, this time, we will see concrete action on the air pollution in our city in the time-frame promised. But ‘legally compliant air’ is not the same as healthy air

“We hope that the council’s announcement is just the beginning of urgent and substantial action on Bristol’s toxic air crisis.”

The banners being displayed were videoed by a cyclist taking their daily exercise between the hotspots and shown on the campaign’s Facebook page. The video includes messages from the residents hanging banners, explaining how Bristol’s dirty air affects their lives.

Experts talking on the livestream include local GP Kat Newman and Bristol Clean Air Alliance. They were joined by XR activist Chloe Naldrett and well-respected London air pollution campaigner David Smith, also known as ‘Little Ninja’.

Esther Akatwijuka of Youth Strike 4 Climate Bristol said:

“Three months ago a UK coroner found that the death in 2013 of 9-year-old Londoner Ella Kissi-Debrah was caused by asthma that was contributed to by her exposure to ‘excessive air pollution’.

“There can no longer be any doubt that air pollution is killing and harming the most vulnerable in our society. And there can no longer be any delay in tackling this crisis. We need healthy air for Bristol right now.”

Air pollution causes more than eight out of every 100 deaths in Bristol each year and 8.7 million deaths globally. Recent research has also found that a small increase in air pollution leads to a large increase in the COVID-19 infectivity and mortality rate in England.

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