Today, June 5, is World Environment Day. Celebrated every year, World Environment Day is the United Nations’ biggest annual event for positive environmental action to encourage worldwide awareness of the need to protect our planet. The theme of World Environment Day 2019 is #BeatAirPollution, calling on governments, industry, communities and individuals to take action to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve the air quality in cities and regions across the world.

This year Green-Schools Travel has launched Air Quality Toolkits for Primary and Secondary schools. We hope that these toolkits will allow schools to learn more about the issue of air pollution and to help them begin making the necessary changes to positively impact their own air qulaity.

Air Pollution

The issue of air pollution is complex and and it demands immediate attention and action. More than six billion people, one-third of them children, regularly breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and well-being at risk. That’s more than 90 per cent of the world’s population. In many developing countries, people face the double burden of indoor and outdoor pollution. Air pollution also goes to the heart of social justice and global inequality.

The good news is that air pollution is preventable. The solutions — laws, standards, policies, programmes, investments and technologies — are widely known and can be implemented.

Clean air is a human right. It is everyone’s right and everyone’s responsibility. Each one of us has a role to play in ensuring that the air we breathe does not end up killing us.

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. One of the main benefits of a school with no congestion from cars at its gates is improved air quality. Emissions from cars, in transit or idling at the school gates means an increase in pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter in the air; these have been linked to suppressed lung growth in children, asthma, heart disease and the onset of type 2 diabetes. (Source) Recent reports have revealed that “the high volume of traffic on Irish roads combined with the spread of polluted European air masses is creating a “major environmental health issue” in Ireland with air contamination rapidly on the increase”. (Source)

Green-Schools Travel would like people to consider the risk that poor air quality poses to children and the most vulnerable in society. 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: 

  • supports the establishment of Clean Air Zones outside schools
  • supports the establishment of ‘school streets’ where streets are closed to motorised traffic during peak times (Example in UK)

Download toolkits

  • Download our Air Quality Toolkit for Primary schools here
  • Download our Air Quality Toolkit for Secondary schools here
  • Download our No Idling Toolkit for schools here

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @GreenSchoolsIre and tell us know you’ll #beatairpollution today and every other day. You can also find us on Facebook, where we would love to hear your thoughts on air quality and what we can all do to improve it.