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End of the Ride, Start of Action


Children’s hospital cyclists & Pollution Pods arrive at COP26 to demand action on deadly climate impacts

  • Cyclists carry letter representing 45million health professionals to COP26

  • Ride for their Lives arrives for welcome event today, 13:30GMT, Gartnavel Hospitals, Glasgow, G12 OXW

  • Children’s hospital staff cycled 800km from London in sync with UK tour of climate art Pollution Pods’ as it drifts up the country

  • Cyclists and pods met the public across the UK to inspire action on air pollution and the climate

Today, 39 children’s hospital staff and health leaders complete an 800km bike ride carrying an open letter from 45 million health professionals. Their mission is to raise awareness of how air pollution and climate change are causing illness and death, especially in children - and demand world leaders act now.

The Healthy Climate Prescription letter, signed by organisations representing 45 million health professionals around the world, says: “The climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity”, with air pollution at the top of the list of deadly impacts. It calls for a rapid and just transition away from fossil fuels, the cause of both problems.

The cyclists have carried it from London, along with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health, which starts with air pollution. The riders and the Pollution Pods will be welcomed to Glasgow by a senior member of the COP High Level Champions for Climate Action team, along with John Brown, Chair of the Glasgow Health Board.

The documents’ journey started with Diarmind Campbell-Lendrum, Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, WHO’s Head of Climate Change and Healthwho cycled from Geneva to London. He then handed the letter and report to Dr Finella Craig, palliative care consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. And they are now carried for the final leg of the 800km journey, by 18-year-old Toby Hancock, a patient at Great Ormond street Hospital and vice chair of GOSH’s Young People’s Forum.

The ride was organised by children’s healthcare providers because they know children are worst affected by air pollution and the climate crisis.

Zeshan Rawn, senior information manager for the London Neonatal Network and the Evelina London Children's Hospital, said: “The warmth of the public’s response has been overwhelming, we’ve approached people, and they have stopped us to talk about the ride and even cycled along with us. Many of them know friends and relations working in healthcare, or children with health conditions affected by air quality, and are asking why this hasn’t happened sooner. This is only the beginning. I hope to see more bike rides organised around air pollution and other aspects of climate change, not just country wide but across the world. If world leaders don't want to read the letters we’re delivering or listen to the scientists, I say spend a day cycling round your cities and your rural areas. If you don’t think air pollution is a serious problem after that, I’d be fascinated to know why.”

Catriona Mellor, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: One of the best things about this ride has been speaking with different professionalsworking in mental health, acute medicine, occupational therapy, physiotherapy - all thinking about the same issue which is how to improve our children’s future with a focus on the climate crisis and air pollution. Ride for their Lives is uniting people who wouldn't normally work together behind a common cause, and laying foundations for future collaborations. There's a role for everyone, together we can do things we thought were impossible, and no-one should get left behind.”

Tom Clark, CEO of Climate Acceptance Studios which brought the pods and the ride together, said: “A study by neuroscientist Kris de Meyer shows the best way to inspire climate action is through action. By cycling this epic journey from London to Glasgow these heroic riders are showing their fellow healthcare providers, the public and COP26 that action is possible. By bringing the Pollution Pods along with the riders, healthcare providers can bodily experience the effect of air pollution first hand. We hope to combine the riders’ action and this experience to bring about real change on the air quality crisis.”

The riders are self-organised, have self-funded their participation, and are now inspiring worldwide support. A global Ride for their Lives has reached cyclists from countries around the world, with child and adult healthcare providers, as well as the public, pledging their distance in October.

More than 1,370 people around the world have already joined the ride remotely from countries including Chile, Australia, Singapore, United States, South Africa and more with 750,000km cycled in support of Ride for their Lives.

Health leaders on the ride include Matthew Shaw, chief executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital, Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the BMJ, and Richard Smith, chair of UK Health Alliance on Climate Change. They are joined by doctors, nurses, anaesthetists, occupational therapists, electricians, sustainability officers and other children's hospital staff.


Notes to Editors

For more information and to arrange interviews please contact: press@climateacceptancestudios.com, Jo: 07960 83 371 & Tom: 07740 647 023.

Finding the event: Gartnavel Hospitals, Glasgow, G12 OXW

Photos and videos are available here

Day by Day summary : https://climateacceptancestudios.com/ride-drift-journey

Schedule: https://climateacceptancestudios.com/whats-on

Previous PR’s: https://climateacceptancestudios.com/press

Additional quotes from cyclists can be found here

World map of people taking part in the virtual ride here

Updates can be found on Twitter | Instagram I Facebook I Press page

Tags: #PollutionDrift #RidefortheirLives

Air pollution and climate change - quick facts

Air pollution has largely the same causes as climate change - burning fossil fuels for power, transport and industry, as well as burning crops and plastics. The solutions are also largely the same - renewable energy, electric mobility, public transport, walking and cycling.

Poor air quality is one of the most tangible health impacts of the climate emergency. It is a killer on a par with smoking and unhealthy diet. It takes an estimated 7 million lives globally each year, and the annual estimate for the UK is 28,000-36,000 deaths. It contributes to respiratory illness, cancer and heart disease. Increasingly, it is being linked to mental illness as well as physical illness. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects because they are closer to exhaust fumes, their lungs are still developing, and they breathe faster than adults.

It is estimated that the average Londoner, exposed to the current levels of pollution recreated in the installation, would lose up to 16 months of their life, with a resident of New Delhi cutting their life short by 4 years.

Michael Pinsky / Pollution Pods

Pinsky is known for his artwork in the public realm. He originally created Pollution Pods to test whether art can change public perceptions of, and action on, climate change. The Pods are made up of five interconnected geodesic domes whose air quality, smell and temperature accurately recreate the pollution of five different locations on three continents: London, Beijing, São Paulo, New Delhi and Tautra, a remote peninsula in Norway. Walking through the domes provides an unforgettable bodily experience of the best and worst air on the planet.

Climate Acceptance Studios

Ride for their Lives has been brought together with the Pollution Pods by Climate Acceptance Studios (CAS). CAS brings together experts and creatives in unique projects to communicate the climate crisis. CAS also produces CPD-accredited training for professionals on the link between planetary and human health, combining creative and expert voices to explore the challenge of accepting this growing threat and taking action. CAS’s first webinar series, Every Breath Matters, is on air pollution.

Organisations supporting Ride for their Lives/Pollution Drift

Clean Air Fund: Pollution Drift is funded by the Clean Air Fund. The Clean Air Fund is a philanthropic initiative with a mission to tackle air pollution around the world. We bring together funders, researchers, policy makers and campaigners to find and scale solutions that will provide clean air for all.

Bupa: Bupa is a sponsor of the Ride for their lives. Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives and making a better world. It is an international healthcare company serving over 31 million customers worldwide. With no shareholders, Bupa reinvests profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers. It directly employs around 85,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Chile, Poland, New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, the US, Middle East and Ireland. It also has associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India. For more information, visit www.bupa.com.

University of East London: The University of East London (UEL) School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering has a strong focus on sustainability and community, building on effective connections with the capital's businesses to provide students with practical experience and the impetus to make a positive impact locally and globally. Michael Pinsky holds a research and teaching position with the university.

International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF): At IFF (NYSE: IFF), an industry leader in food, beverage, scent, health and biosciences, science and creativity meet to create essential solutions for a better world – from global icons to unexpected innovations and experiences. With the beauty of art and the precision of science, we are an international collective of thinkers who partners with customers to bring scents, tastes, experiences, ingredients and solutions for products the world craves. Together, we will do more good for people and planet. Learn more at iff.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

IFF perfumers Stephen Nicoll, Nelly Hachem-Ruiz, Laura French, Avinash Mali, Dino Kong and Gabriela Maldonado, worked with Pinsky on the Pollution Pods, leveraging the art of perfumery and IFF proprietary technologies and ingredients. They used the powerful sense of smell to give visitors a visceral, sometimes unpleasant experience, to increase people's awareness of world pollution issues. Norway, London, Delhi, Beijing, Sao Paulo: each city with its own pollution issues, and pollution scents.

Build with Hubs: Build with Hubs is a start-up based in the UK. They have created 'hubs' – simple to snap together joints that make durable geodesic domes fun, easy and quick to build.

Airlabs: AirLabs is a leading pioneer in clean air technology. With more than 90% of the world’s population exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution, AirLabs’ mission is to deliver measuring, monitoring and cleaning solutions that provide valuable insight, enable action and clean polluted air to make it safe for people to breathe. Its international team of atmospheric chemistry scientists, airflow engineers and sensor specialists has developed cutting edge and scientifically proven solutions for use by government, business and individuals to tackle the growing problem of urban air pollution. AirLabs is headquartered in London and has its R&D labs in Copenhagen.

AirHavn Pro portable air filtration technology will be used to create the atmosphere of Tautra. This also removes airborne coronavirus, and will be deployed across the other pods to protect visitors. The drivers transporting the pods to each city will be protected on route via the installation of AirLabs’ AirBubbl devices in their vehicles, which remove more than 95% of airborne pollutants and pathogens, including coronavirus, and provides 30,000 litres of clean air per hour to keep drivers safe from airborne threats.

Lime: Lime is working to create a future of transport that is shared, electric and zero-emission. It is the largest micro mobility provider in the UK, having safely delivered over 4 million zero carbon rides across its service areas in London, Manchester and Milton Keynes. Lime is supporting Ride for their Lives by donating an electric support van for the journey, in addition to providing e-bikes to riders as needed.

Bikeworks: Bikeworks is a community evolved London-based social enterprise, with headquarters in the Olympic Park Velodrome, Stratford. It delivers programmes and services using the bicycle as its tool of engagement. These include six inclusive cycling hubs with a focus on Londoners with disabilities and barriers to cycling, adult and child cycle training, employment and training courses for those furthest away from the labour market, cycling for wellbeing, and Ride Side-by-Side cycling taxi service to people who are isolated or have mobility issues. Bikeworks is supporting Ride for their Lives by providing two qualified mechanics who will both ride in the event and drive an electric vehicle as technical support.

Patagonia: Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1973, Patagonia is an outdoor apparel company based in Ventura, California. A Certified B Corporation, the company is recognized internationally for its commitment to product quality and environmental activism—and its contributions of more than $145 million in grants and in-kind donations to date.

Additional supporters of Pollution Pods: Arts Council England

  • Cape Farewell

  • Norwegian Research Council

  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

  • The Norwegian Institute of Air Research (NILU)

  • World Health Organisation.

On their journey the cyclists stopped at cities across the UK with Pollution Pods (pictured), an art installation which recreates the air in the world’s most polluted cities, to meet the public.