Mayor’s new air quality campaign to help Londoners ‘breathe better’

30 January 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has today launched a major new air quality public awareness campaign aimed at helping Londoners make small changes to reduce their exposure to pollution and help improve air quality.

Over the next few months Londoners will see ‘Breathe Better Together’ information posters on London transport, hear adverts on the radio and many schools and businesses will participate in pollution tackling seminars.

Londoners will be encouraged to sign up to receive free regular email and text alerts about pollution levels, plus offered simple tips and information to minimise exposure.

Parents will be encouraged to walk or cycle the school run using less polluted routes, whilst drivers will be asked to switch their engines off when their cars are parked or stationary for a long period of time.

Many schools across the city will be visited by a giant pop up interactive globe to help them learn more facts and gain greater understanding of air quality including its causes.

The Mayor launched the campaign today at Norbury Manor Primary School and joined pupils as they tested their lung function, explored the giant globe and learnt about the school’s new air quality monitoring station.

The Breathe Better Together (BBT) campaign is organised by the Mayor of London in partnership with Camden, Islington, Croydon, and the City of London. This is part of a series of hard hitting ambitious measures the Mayor is delivering to tackle air pollution in the capital including introducing plans for the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London, cleaning up London’s bus fleet, retiring more than 6,000 of the oldest, most polluting taxis and retrofitting more than 400,000 buildings. The campaign marks the start of spring pollution period which often sees the highest levels of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5).

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London said “This is about promoting small simple steps we can all make to help improve air quality, protect ourselves from pollutants and indeed breathe better together. Today’s campaign is part of a series of strong measures I’m delivering to tackle air quality and safe guard the health and well-being of Londoners, but I’m fully aware much more needs to done. I’m confident the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and the strict tightening of our emission standards will help dramatically improve air quality and lower NO2 across the city. “

Funding has also been secured from Defra’s national air quality grants programme, the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund and the Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN), a health-focused EU INTRREG funded project.

Environment Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades and we are investing heavily in measures to continue this, committing £2 billion since 2011 to increase the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, sustainable travel and green transport initiatives. Local Authorities play a central role in improving the air quality in their areas. The Government supports their work through the Clean Vehicle Technology Fund and our Air Quality Grant Scheme which part-funded the Breathe Better Together campaign. This project is a great example of authorities working together to identify the best solution for London and I look forward to seeing the results so we can share best practice to improve air quality across the country.”

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London, said: ‘’Air quality plays a vital role in the health and wellbeing of Londoners. The major effect of long term exposure to air pollution is on deaths from cardiorespiratory disease and it is likely that air pollution acts as a contributory factor, along with many others, including smoking and lack of physical activity. PHE welcomes the launch of the Breathe Better Together campaign, which enables Londoners to take positive action such as walking or cycling to benefit their health while contributing to reducing air pollution.”

Councillor Sally Gimson, Camden Council’s cabinet member for Sustainability and Environment, said: “Camden are delighted to be delivery partners in this project that will raise awareness of air quality across the capital. Breathe Better Together will make it really easy for residents, businesses, and school children to learn how poor air quality affects them and what they can do about it. This project will help everyone in Camden and beyond understand the small steps they can take to improve the air quality around them, and how they can protect themselves when a high pollution event is forecast.”

Breathe Better Together hopes to encourage people to make small behavioural changes that can make a positive impact on air quality and is particularly aimed at younger people and families. The campaign will work closely with airTEXT, London’s air pollution alerts provider which send a free information text service informing people of pollution levels.

The Mayor has delivered a 20 per cent reduction in NOx emissions and 15 per cent reduction in PM10/PM2.5 emissions since he was elected. The Mayor has also halved the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Ends

 

 

Notes to editors

1. For more information on Breathe Better Together visit www.london.gov.uk/breathe

2. The Pollution Globe is funded by the EU Joint Air Quality Initiative (JOAQUIN) and INTERREG, and can accommodate up to four children at a time. At least fifteen schools in Croydon, Camden, Islington and the City of London will be visited during the first phase of Breathe Better Together.

3. Breathe Better Together has been based on successful similar campaigns used in the United States, including Spare the Air (www.sparetheair.org). GLA staff had the opportunity to learn directly from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District who run Spare the Air thanks as part of a Fellowship provided by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (www.wcmt.org.uk).

4. Breathe Better Together campaign will include 849 tube posters over eight weeks, newspaper adverts, radio activity across three London stations, co-branded radial trails and a competition, social media activity on Facebook, blogs and twitter, online advertising including targeted video advertising, encouraging conversations about air pollution among parents living in London (sponsored discussion on Mumsnet).

5. There will also be new resources on the GLA website at www.london.gov.uk/breathe as well as a new ‘pollution alert’ feature on the main GLA landing page.

6. JOAQUIN (Joint Air Quality Initiative) is a new EU cooperation project supported by the INTERREG IVB North West Europe programme (www.nweurope.eu). The aim of the project is to support health-oriented air quality policies in Europe. To achieve this, the project will provide policy makers with the necessary evidence on the current local and/or regional situation (e.g. measurements of emerging health relevant parameters), provide them with best-practice measures that can be taken and motivate them to adapt and strengthen their current air quality policies. As part of the "Cleaner Air, Better Health" campaign, JOAQUIN also created a website for the general public with comprehensible information on air quality.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Press information is available from Rachelle Laurence on 020 7 983 4599 by emailing [email protected]

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