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Messages delivered to COP26


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Global health community deliver message of action to COP26 after 1600km bike ride

  • “Ride for their Lives” cyclists deliver both a letter from 46 million health workers, and WHO COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health

  • Documents formally handed over today to COP26 & COP27 presidencies

  • An urgent call to act now to avert deadly health impacts of climate crisis

  • The letter and report have travelled with cyclists from Geneva to Glasgow

(Glasgow, November 9th) Today, a letter and a report from the world health community calling for action to protect millions of lives from climate catastrophe, were formally handed to Gillian Keegan, UK Minister of State for Care and Mental Health, Wendy Morton, UK Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas and Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education and Minister of Scientific Research of Egypt, representing the presidency of COP26 and COP27 respectively.

The documents were handed over this morning after delegates had gathered for the Climate Action for Health event during COP26 Science and Innovation Day in Glasgow.

The Healthy Climate Prescription Letter and WHO Special Report on Health and Climate Change were carried to Glasgow by Ride for their Lives cyclists in a blue satchel covered with pleas for action by the Young People’s Forum at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London.

The satchel and documents were delivered by Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, head of climate and health at the World Health Organisation, Dr Richard Smith, chair of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, Poornima Prabhakaran, deputy director of the Public Health Foundation of India, Mohammed Eissa, liaison officer for Public Health Issues at the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), Cara Cook and Katie Huffling from the Associate of Nurses for Health Environment, and Dr Jeni Miller, executive director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

Dr Campbell-Lendrum and Dr Smith both cycled legs of Ride for their Lives, a group of more than 70 children’s healthcare providers who biked the documents 1,600km from Geneva to Glasgow via London. The ride, which draws attention to the fact that children’s health is suffering most from climate change and air pollution, saw children’s hospital chief executives, doctors, nurses, physios, IT staff and electricians riding side by side.

The Healthy Climate Prescription letter is signed by organisations representing 46 million health workers worldwide. It states that COP is “a critical opportunity to put the world on a path that protects people from catastrophic climate change.”

The letter warns the climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity and calls on world leaders to deliver on climate action and calls on all governments “to avert the impending health catastrophe by limiting global warming to 1.5°C, and to make human health and equity central to all climate change mitigation and adaptation actions.”

The World Health Organisation Special Report on Climate Change and Health is dedicated to “Ella Kissi-Debrah – and all other children who have suffered and died from air pollution and climate change”. It provides a blueprint for action from the global health community, outlining priority actions for governments and policy makers.

Eighteen-year-old Toby Hancock, GOSH Young People’s Forum vice-chair and the youngest Ride for their Lives cyclist, said: “Our ambition is for world leaders to listen and act to protect the planet for children and young people like myself. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.”

Dr Richard Smith said: “I did the first leg of Ride for their Lives and I hugely admire the health staff who cycled the whole way, putting themselves through the pain of wind, rain, hills and aching bodies to save the planet for the children they care for. Leaders really need to listen to the passion that led them to do this. There are 25 thousand people at COP and I’m not sure what they are achieving. I can’t help thinking that if they’d all cycled here from London to get themselves in the right frame of mind they might be more focused.”

Dr Mark Hayden, a paediatric cardiac intensive care consultant at GOSH, cyclist and one of the organisers of the ride, said: Our young patients are going to suffer from the climate emergency far more than adult patients, whilst bearing the least responsibility for the situation. But we have known how to beat climate change for decades, it’s a question of getting everyone to take the necessary steps. Health professionals can exert influence at many levels, from rallying communities, to challenging governments, to having sensitive conversations with individual patients and their families. That’s why UK children’s hospitals organised Ride for their Lives. Governments must read the documents and act now to protect life - there’s no more time”

Dr Jeni Miller, Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, said: “We are calling on the UK and Egyptian governments to convey the messages contained in this letter to their counterparts in government around the world from now through to COP27 in Egypt and beyond: health must become the beating heart of climate action.

“Integrating health and equity into climate policy will protect peoples’ health, maximise returns on investments, and build public support for the urgently needed responses from governments to the climate crisis. The time for delays is over. Health groups around the world are all in for a healthy future, and that means accelerating climate action”.

Teri Bayliss, Newcastle Hospitals Charity Director and cyclist, said: “Along with COP26 and the world’s politicians, we all need to act. We are all responsible and we don’t have time to prevaricate. I hope that “Ride for their Lives” has amplified the message that the climate emergency is a health emergency, and collectively we can take positive action to make the necessary changes to tackle the crisis.”

Teri spoke about Ride for the Lives at the 2pm Healthy Climate Prescription event in the WHO health pavilion.

The handover is the culmination of a coalition of health providers, climate and cycling campaigners, and climate art.

More than 1,490 people around the world joined the ride remotely from countries including Chile, Australia, Singapore, United States, South Africa, with more than a million km (1,074,937) cycled in support of Ride for their Lives.

Ride for their Lives travelled in sync with art installation Pollution Pods. Combined events with pods and riders were held in London, Birmingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, and Glasgow to raise awareness about the links between air pollution, climate and health. The pods allow visitors to experience a simulation of the most polluted air on the planet. The Pollution Pods are on display at Gartnavel Hospitals in Glasgow 1100-1600 until 12 November.


Notes to Editors

For more information contact press@climateacceptancestudios.com 07740 647 023

07969 083 371

Photos available here

End of the Ride, Start of Action - new video - showing Ride for their Lives and Pollution Drift Journey

More information see previous press releases

#ridefortheirlives #pollutiondrift #cop26 #climateprescription

During the Climate Action for Health event, WHO and the Global Climate and Health Alliance premiered a video, “#climateprescription” with medical and health professionals from around the world calling for climate action.

Khaled Abdel Ghaffar - Minister of Higher Education and Minister of Scientific Research of Egypt, Gillian Keegan, UK Minister of State for Care and Mental Health, Dr. Satyendra Prasad, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, Diarmid-Campbell-Lendrum, WHO’s Climate change and Health lead, Katie Huffling, Association of Nurses for a Healthy Environment, Richard Smith, President of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, Wendy Morton, UK Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas, Dr Jeni Miller, Executive Director of Global Climate and Health Alliance, Rachel Levine, US Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the World Health Organization, Poornima Prabhakaran, Deputy Director of the Public Health Foundation of India

Events on Tuesday November 9th

The letter and report were handed over at the Climate Actions for Health event - as part of Science and Innovation Day.


DATE: 10.00-11.15, Tuesday 9th November

Climate change is the greatest threat to global public health in the 21st century. This session brings together leaders from government, the health sector and climate change to set out the health arguments for ambitious global action on climate change. It also highlights the leadership role of health through the trusted voices of health professionals, and by demonstrating the global health sector’s ambitious commitments to building climate resilient and sustainable health systems.

The Healthy Climate Prescription: a briefing on Health Professionals’ Advocacy towards COP26

Location: WHO Health Pavilion, COP26

Date: 13.00-14.00, Tuesday 9th November

Health professionals have mobilised across the sector, and around the world to deliver a strong message to the heart of COP26. This session explores why health professionals have asserted their ethical responsibility to speak out on the need for urgent climate action, and why governments benefit from heeding their message.

Talks Include:
The Healthy Climate Prescription Letter

The WHO COP26 Special Report: The Health Argument for Climate Action

Ride for their Lives: The activists view.

The Healthy Climate letter to national leaders and delegations at COP26 is supported by the Global Climate and Health Alliance and the World Health Organization in service of the medical and health community around the world.

In the COP26 Blue Zone. Healthy Climate Prescription letter and WHO report contained in a blue satchel covered with pleas for action by the young people’s forum at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London. The satchel was carried from London to Glasgow by Ride for their Lives. Credit: Alison Cox

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.

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.