Climate meets air quality
This week Louise took part in a panel discussion at the Climate Tech conference. And an eminent panel it was too: Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor of London; Professor Ben Barrett, Imperial College London; David Lu, CEO and founder of Clarity Movement Co (who produce the Breathe London monitoring nodes); Priya Shankar, Bloomberg Philanthropies (who fund the Breathe London community programme); and Matt Whitney of the Clean Air Fund… and Louise from Brixton!
This panel set out why Breathe London is such a success: with over 400 nodes installed, connecting the reference nodes (those that are used to report on official targets) with those that community groups and private organisations can install, knowing they are backed by the best expertise and produce reliable data. Data was a strong theme and our visualisations were welcomed. Drawing in communities helps to democratise the issue and involve the people it most affects. A relatable challenge across the programme was actually fixing nodes to lamp-posts - harder than you’d think! We were also excited to hear about plans to extend Breathe London to an international Breathe Cities, using London’s experience in 10 global cities.
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We've been thinking a lot about the connection between climate action and tackling air pollution. For the most part, the aims and actions are aligned. There are a set of seminal studies (1, 2, 3, 4) from a few years ago that demonstrate the health benefits (leading to economic gains) that climate mitigation efforts which also target air pollution will achieve. However, there are some areas that are more contentious - when Louise arrived at the conference, the first thing she saw was some rather fancy electric vehicles (no panel beaters required). First thought: am I in the right place? EVs are an important part of de-carbonising transport, yet still have air quality impacts, as we covered here. And there are incentives to tackle climate change (rightly) that don’t always translate through to work on air quality - for example Clean Air Fund’s latest report found that international work on air quality and climate change was not adequately linked.
Louise has had a fun week on the air quality scene! We’ve featured the work of the Knitting the Air group before. Tonight they had their launch of their exhibition in Poplar, E14. This was both a beautiful and terrifying experience. The knitting is delicate and thoughtfully presented; but it shows the local air (near a primary school and another near a main road) as being above WHO limits most of the time. We hope to delve into this more in a future blog.
Update on the node
We’ve finally had the go ahead to install the monitoring node! It will be in the grounds of St Matthews, which, for those who know Brixton, is right opposite Windrush Square. It’s at the intersection of some major roads - so it’s amazing that there is no monitoring there to date. We hope to be able to give you some pictorial evidence soon of the node installation - and then all the data!
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