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Health effects of air pollution

Campaigning for equitable clean air policies

The health effects of air pollution are an issue of racial injustice. We’re working with Enact Equality to make sure people in parliament understand this which we hope will strengthen support for equitable clean air policies. 

Key info: 

What are we doing together? 

Air pollution is a public health crisis. It causes lung disease, heart disease and cancer. But it is also an issue of racial injustice. A person from a racially minoritised background is more likely to be affected by air pollution. Politicians and policymakers need to understand this and implement equitable policies to prevent ill-health.

We’re partnering with Enact Equality, a campaigning organisation focused on social and racial justice, to raise awareness in parliament of the disproportionate impact of air pollution on racially minoritised communities. Enact Equality will identify MPs and Lords with an interest in racial and environmental injustice, or health equity. They will then create a network of champions across the House of Commons and the House of Lords. 

Enact Equality’s series of activities will include:  

  • Engagement with parliamentary opportunities, including the Health and Social Care Committee’s inquiry on prevention and relevant All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). Enact Equality will also support MPs and Lords with briefings for debates and tabling written questions.  
  • Developing policy recommendations to alleviate the effects of air pollution on racially minoritised communities.  
  • Publishing policy recommendations at a parliamentary briefing event and, with the support of parliamentary champions, advocating for their inclusion in each party’s General Election manifesto.  

We chose to work with Enact Equality because of their strong track record in parliamentary engagement on racial justice, including providing the secretariat for the APPG on Race Equality in Education. 

Aim of the partnership

We want to shift political thinking about air pollution towards a greater recognition of environmental racism. We also want to secure cross-party support for policy solutions that dismantle the systemic inequities behind this problem. Achieving this will improve air quality for everyone but will have the biggest impact on health within racially minoritised communities.

During this project, we hope to learn more about how we can grow parliamentary connections and influence to drive change on clean air and other urban health issues. The project will also provide an opportunity to test how to involve our partners in policy and influencing work.

Connection to our strategy

Our Health effects of air pollution programme focuses on people that are disproportionately affected by poor air quality. This includes children, older people, people with health conditions, people on lower incomes, Black people, and people from other minoritised communities. This partnership has a specific ambition to raise awareness among policymakers of the health effects of air pollution in racially minoritised communities.

We hope this will lead to a growing number of politicians backing national-level policy solutions which directly address racial and environmental injustice.

Mark Heffernan

Want to find out more about this project?

Contact Head of Policy and Influencing Mark Heffernan.

Contact Mark