Many of us at UWE are lucky to be living in areas surrounded by the quiet and picturesque parks like Snuff Mills or Ashton Court. On a lucky day, we might be able to spot Fallow Deers in Bower Ashton or a stunning sunset over Stoke Park.
“Ashton Court, Bristol” by Nick is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Sunset in Stoke Park
However, did you know that your stroll through the city might actually be harmful to your lungs and that a beautiful sunset can be caused by the fumes from the many cars commuting to Bristol on daily basis?
Air pollution in Bristol regularly exceeds the legal EU and national limits, with some particles found in double the allowed concentration. This is estimated to cause 300 premature deaths per year in Bristol. The biggest contributors are diesel cars, which are the number one choice of transport for the majority of the residents. This means that our current transport situation is in a crisis in multiple areas:
- Environmental - as transport contributes to a quarter of total CO2 emissions in the UK
- Public health - as air pollution is proven to cause asthma, lung cancer, stroke and heart diseases
- City planning - as the increasing number of Bristolians spend their long commute stuck in traffic, getting stressed and frustrated.
In a nutshell, we’re in a pickle, but there’s a lot that can be done before we’re forced to wear face masks like this guy:
What is UWE doing?
The researchers at UWE’s ClairCity project are working with several European cities to figure out how to encourage politicians and local residents to support pro-clean air behaviour and policies. Their website is a great resource for pollution-related facts, events and maybe event inspiration for your coursework or campaigns!
What are the politicians doing?
Currently, the local council is planning to introduce Clean Air Zone – a policy similar to the congestion charge in London, where vehicles entering highly polluted areas will be charged on daily basis. The ideas are still under discussion, but we can expect a decision in early 2018
How can you contribute?
Firstly, avoid driving around the city whenever you can. Bristol is reasonably small (although, admittedly quite hilly!). Both UWE and the major student areas are served by the buses, trains and quiet cycling and walking routes. Do not be a part of the issue, be the solution.
Don’t be that person!
Secondly, try to find a quieter route when walking and cycling around the city. You can find great route suggestions at the UWE transport website
Finally, if you are fancy getting involved in campaigning, contact Rising Up. The group are a new UK-wide social movement passionate about a range of social and environmental issues. They’re all about playful, creative although sometimes disobedient (if not controversial) action. The group is still forming and open to new campaign ideas, check out their facebook page for more information. Another great way to get involved with campaigning on air quality is to get involved with the UWE Green Team. The Green Team are a collective of students always looking to create positive impact in the local community through campaigning interventions! Log on to the Green Team site here to find out more.