Green-Schools Travel are delighted to announce the third annual Clean Air Week. The campaign which runs from Monday, November 15 to Friday, November 19 inclusive will launch in timing with The European Commission’s third EU Clean Air Forum. The EU Clean Air Forum is an initiative which centers around the development and implementation of effective European, national and local air policies, projects and programmes. The Forum conference will bring together decision-makers, stakeholders and experts to inform the ongoing revision of EU rules relating to air quality. However, it will be the everyday people like families, students and community members who take individual action to #BeatAirPollution by choosing to travel actively and make fewer journeys by car.
Green-Schools and Air Quality
The Green-Schools Travel programme works with school communities to enable them to walk, cycle, scoot, use public transport or other sustainable methods of getting to and from school each day. Green-Schools Travel would like people to consider the risk that poor air quality poses to children and the most vulnerable in society.
The aim of our Clean Air Week campaign is to raise awareness of air pollution and to take action to reduce air pollution around the school. Students can make a pledge to #BeatAirPollution by asking – Is there a ‘clean air’ alternative to making this journey by car? Can I walk or cycle? Schools can tackle issues of air pollution at the school gate by launching a ‘Clean Air’ focused campaign or a ‘No Idling’ campaign. Throughout the week, Coordinators and students can follow our digital online campaign, which will showcase air quality resources and activities each day.
We recognise the health implications of poor air quality and will continue to work with school communities to seek ways to reduce congestion at areas where children congregate.
In addition, the Green-Schools Travel theme:
- Together with Local Authorities and the NTA, supports the establishment of School Zones outside schools.
- Together with Local Authorities and the NTA, supports the role out of the ‘Safe Routes to School’ programme.
- Develops Clean Air focused recourses which can be downloaded in the links below.
The Injustices of Air Pollution
More than 90 per cent of the World’s population, one-third of them children, regularly breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and well-being at risk. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “in 2019, 99% of the World’s population lived in places where the thresholds recommended in the WHO air quality guidelines were not met.”
Air pollutant emissions from transport, including particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), unburnt hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO), are a main contributor to air quality problems in Europe. The injustice of breathing polluted air is not evenly distributed Worldwide, or even at a local level. Exposure to transport-related air pollution varies, where some groups may be more exposed to harmful emissions, depending on how long they stay within the polluted area. For most pollutants, exposure concentrations appear to be two-to-three times as high near busy roads, which is often where families and children are travelling to school.
- The good news is that air pollution is preventable. Urban outdoor air pollution could be reduced through policies and investments in cleaner transport, more energy-efficient housing, power plants and industries, and better municipal waste management.
- The great news is that students and schools can take individual action towards improving the air quality around the school by developing a culture of walking and cycling to school, and campaigning to have a car-free zone at the gate.
Attitudes towards Air Pollution
According to the Household Environmental Concerns survey 2021, which was carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), 73 per cent of households would support stricter air pollution controls on industrial and energy-production activities as the most effective means of tackling problems of air quality. The survey revealed, however that just 29 per cent of Irish households would support traffic restrictions in polluted cities. This startling result proves that we need to engender more pro-active travel behaviour in society and support schools and individuals to be less car-dependent.
Get started with you Clean Air Campaign
Check out our clean air focused videos, resources and toolkits, which are complete with lesson plans and activities. Worksheets can be downloaded to support the activities in the resources. Why not take a Clean Air pledge and share your commitment on your social media channel, packs can be downloaded and shared with your school network. Be sure to use the #BeatAirPollution and to tag @GreenSchoolsIre to be in with the chance to win prizes for your school!