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A flyer with a young woman holding a megaphone and the words "sign the petition". The Clean Air Day logo is in the corner.


Cars and vans are the biggest source of toxic chemicals in our air. This Clean Air Day, let’s use our voices to call on our next government to clean it up.

Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to your health, no matter who you are or where you live. It can harm every organ in your body, causing heart and lung disease, dementia, and strokes.

You may be exposed to higher levels of air pollution because of where you live – for example, if you live in a town or city, or near a busy road – and certain people are more at risk (including children, the elderly, and people with health conditions).

A collage made up of a train, someone looking at their watch, a departure board that says "Next stop: cleaner air - disrupted" and some tickets that say "Let

According to official data, cars and vans are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and some types of air pollution in the UK, harming both our health and the planet.1,2 If more of us were able to walk, wheel, cycle or use reliable public transport, it would make the air cleaner for us all and help to protect our health and the planet:

  • If everyone switched just one car journey a month for a bus trip, there would be a billion fewer car journeys each year.3
  • If 50% of short journeys in towns and cities were walked or cycled, we could save enough carbon to power every home in Manchester, Bristol or Liverpool with electricity.4
  • Taking the train also produces nearly 80% less carbon emissions than driving, helping to protect the environment.7

Whether you are 8 or 80, everyone should have the option to travel in ways that are better for our health and the planet.

This Clean Air Day (Thursday 20 June), use your voice to call on our next government to:

  • Make walking, wheeling, and cycling safer.
  • Ensure that everyone can access reliable, affordable, and efficient public transport.

A collage of a path with a cyclist, wheelchair user, and parent and child walking along it. At the end is a sign that reads "the path to clean air, BLOCKED". A flyer has a person with a loudspeaker on it urging people to "call for better transport"

Candidates for the election will be out and about over the next few weeks looking to speak to their potential constituents. If you speak to them, we've got some handy questions to ask them to understand whether tackling air pollution is a priority for them.

Questions for your candidate

    Ask your candidates graphic, containing the 4 questions for candiates
    • Do you agree that air pollution is a problem in our community?
    • Are you committed to taking forward policies that will improve air quality and reduce health inequalities?
    • What steps would you take to clean up our air if elected? Do you feel these are ambitious plans?
    • What are your thoughts on improving active travel and public transport in our community, which would in turn improve the health and wellbeing of residents?

    Why not write or print out these questions and leave them by your front door so you are ready if any parliamentary candidates come knocking!

    Click to read the full demand to the newly-elected Prime Minister

    Dear newly-elected Prime Minister,

    Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to our health, and is associated with up to 43,000 deaths per year in the UK.8 Cars and vans are the biggest source of toxic chemicals in our air, harming both our health and the planet.


    Air pollution can harm every organ in the body, causing heart and lung disease, dementia, and strokes.9 It is a major driver of health inequalities: global majority communities and those with the highest levels of deprivation are often living in the most polluted areas, and children, older people and people with health conditions are more at risk.10


    Clean air will not only save lives, but less pollution will mean better lifelong health for communities across the country and reduce costs for the NHS. Some of the best ways to cut air pollution, such as reducing car miles and increasing active travel, also help improve our health.11,12 Estimates suggest clean air can boost the UK economy by a minimum of £1.6 billion per year.13


    This is why as the general public, we are calling on our policymakers to commit to improving air quality across the country by investing in cleaner, healthier, and more affordable ways to travel. With transport playing such a significant role in air pollution and in our daily lives, improving transport is a straightforward way of rapidly improving the quality of air we breathe every day.


    To make a significant contribution to improving air quality and our health, we need:  

    1. An integrated transport strategy for England which targets improvements in the nation’s health and better access to jobs and education, as well as climate, clean air and better neighbourhoods. This will have walking, wheeling and cycling and a thriving public transport network for all at its heart.
    2. Require all new housing developments to provide affordable, accessible, and frequent public transport links, as well as safe, routes for walking, wheeling and cycling from the outset.
    3. Shift investment to public transport and active travel so communities can have minimum levels of reliable, affordable bus services and safe walking and cycling options.
    4. Reform rail fares and ticketing including simplifying fares, ensuring consistency across the network and improving the availability of affordable prices throughout the day.
    5. Keep pavements free of cars by granting councils the powers to stop vehicles being parked on pavements.

    Ahead of a General Election, we are asking every political party to commit to the above within 100 days of a new government. These calls will give every person in the UK the opportunity to breathe cleaner air for their health and wellbeing while co-benefitting our economy and environment. 


    Sincerely, 

    Clean Air Day petition signatories

    Cc: Secretary of State for Environment
    Secretary of State for Transport
    Secretary of State for Health

    References

    1. Department for Transport, Official Statistics: Transport and environment statistics: 2023 (2023);
    2. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, National statistics: Emissions of air pollutants in the UK – Nitrogen oxides (NOx) (2024);
    3. Greener Journeys, The One Billion Challenge;
    4. 50% of short urban trips in England walked, wheeled or cycled by 2030 would avoid 107,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalent) (Sustrans briefing note, Investment in walking and cycling 2025-2030 (2024)), which would power more than 244,000 houses with electricity for one year5,6 – greater than the number of dwellings in Manchester, Bristol or Liverpool (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, 2022);
    5. Ofgem, Average gas and electricity usage;
    6. Carbon Brief, UK electricity from fossil fuels drops to lowest level since 1957;
    7. Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Greenhouse gas reporting: conversion factors 2023;
    8. Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, Local Air Quality Management (LAQM), Public Health;
    9. Public Health England, Guidance: Health matters: air pollution, 2018;
    10. Wang L, Zhong B, Vardoulakis S, Zhang F, Pilot E, Li Y, et al. Air Quality Strategies on Public Health and Health Equity in Europe-A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016;13(12);
    11. Public Health England, Working Together to Promote Active Travel, a briefing for local authorities, 2016;
    12. Department for Transport, Claiming the Health Dividend: A summary and discussion of value for money estimates from studies of investment in walking and cycling, 2014;
    13. Clean Air Fund, The UK’s Clean Air Zones will save both lives and money – we need similar measures all over the world, 2021;

    Clean Air Day is brought to you by Global Action Plan in partnership with Health Equals.

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