The fact is, air pollution is linked to one in eight premature deaths worldwide. Poor air quality is especially dangerous for children and the elderly. However, all ages are all affected. Cancer, heart conditions, strokes, respiratory diseases, poor brain and lung development and type 2 diabetes are all connected to air pollution. People living in cities are particularly affected, with 90% of urban citizens exposed to harmful levels of air pollutants (World Health Organisation).
The effects of poor air quality are felt worldwide. But the sources are usually local – and are the same as those contributing to climate change. Every day, air pollution is caused by our commutes to work, by heating our homes, or through our local industries. And the design of cities affect where air pollution concentrates.
Understanding how we live, work and play – and the restrictions we face in those choices – is key to improving air quality. However, as pollution and carbon emissions are caused by people engaging in social activities it need not be just individuals held responsible for emissions. All citizens, particularly the biggest polluters, such as employers and service providers, should play a part in improving clean air. Solutions at a local level can make a big difference. But we have more power as groups (and consortium, like we are!) than individuals.
ClairCity has been examining our collective behaviour and practices to better understand air pollution and carbon emissions. We’ve been gathering citizen viewpoints and been using cutting-edge modelling tools to understand how their hopes influence the future of their city.
Citizen viewpoints about how to solve these problems are critical for democratic and practical reasons. We have to live alongside one another; and we need to find agreement on actions and policies if they are to be effective! That is why our resources, from our game to our app and our schools activities, have been developed with this in mind. And they are fun too!
Solutions will be different for each city. As such, we are developing policy and advocacy packs that can help guide other cities in developing their own local plans of action. Our findings can positively influence policy development for air quality globally – so please use our resources and share them far and wide.