image of smog filled underground station

Air Pollution kills – solving it benefits the climate and all Londoners.

Photo by orva studio on Unsplash

Air Pollution kills – solving it benefits the climate and all Londoners.

Air pollution contributes to the deaths of 9400 Londoners per year. How can we connect our solutions for health and climate for better and more effective outcomes?

There is an overwhelming wealth of research and data that links people’s health with the climate they live in. From the start of the industrial revolution, man-made pollutants have been impacting the health of those living in urban areas. Influencing asthma, rates of cancer, sperm count and more, air pollution leads to greater hospital admissions and more strain on health services. In London alone, the air quality leads to 9,400 extra deaths per year. So how can we make sure we’re solving the climate crisis in a way that’s good for our health, and vice-versa?

Health and climate are two systemic challenges that need to be addressed though a whole government and business response. During London Climate Action Week we’re running an online workshop with key London partners, including; Impact on Urban Health, Rewired Earth, City of Westminster, Together we Ride, and Brixton Project, to investigate:  

  • Strategically how do we align health and climate goals  
  • Practically what are the actions that most effectively address these goals.   

Bringing together public health, climate and other professionals, the discussion will be led by OnePlanet founder, Pooran Desai; and Charlie Waterhouse from The Brixton Project 

To set the context for this, we started by mapping out some key London policies, including:  

  • Equity, diversity and inclusion strategy 
  • Environment strategy 
  • Transport strategy  
  • Main health goals  


Through this work, we’ve already seen how to target action for the most effective outcomes: although each plan has it’s own focus and emphasis, by systems mapping, we were able to identify that air quality is a clear common issue across these four strategies. Therefore, any action that improves air quality will help to meet the objectives of these strategies simultaneously. 

The impact is also reciprocal: while it may seem like we’re treating a symptom of our unhealthy cities, if we address the root causes of air pollution, the benefits will be ripple into many sectors of human life. Smog-filled streets put cyclists and walkers off, and so only encourage more emissions-producing transport. Improved air quality will encourage active streets, reduce health inequalities and improve wellbeing, as well as saving the NHS huge amounts of money. 

There are many fantastic initiatives already underway that are focused on tackling these issues that can bring a cascade of health and environmental benefits. During the workshop, we will have facilitated discussions to consider how local and regional government, as well as health institutions, can support these initiatives and amplify their impact.  

Ultimately, we need to be reorientating our health system to create a healthy environment in which ‘all Londoners have the opportunity to get on in life, to fulfil their potential and to not just survive, but to thrive.’ (London Mayor’s vision for London).   

For more information, please contact and join our session at 2pm on the 27th of June!

Sign up for the monthly OnePlanet newsletter