Climate Action

Investing in clean air can protect our health and the planet

Inhabitants of Poland gathering in happenings on the street to demonstrate for banning coal and cleaner air Photo-credits: Karolina Sobel / Akcja Demokracja

Everyone has to breathe, everyone has lungs, has a heart, and suffers from air pollution,” says campaigner Anna Dworakowska.

Anna lives in Cracow in Poland, where air pollution was so bad that it was the equivalent of inhaling seven cigarettes a day. Anna says: “My children were really small. When I thought they would have to live in the city, with that dirty air, it really motivated me to do something about it.”

The worst source of air pollution were boilers powered by coal and wood, with some 30,000 in use in the city.

Cracow Smog Alert

Together with five friends, Anna launched Cracow Smog Alert. The result is an unprecedented collaboration between campaigners, the local government, scientists and companies that has led to ban on burning coal and wood.

On a global level, outdoor air pollution is linked to 4.2 million deaths per year, while its most prominent sources—transport, the power sector and industrial emissions—also contribute to climate change.

Because air quality is such a tangible issue, that cuts across all sections of society, research shows it is an effective way to motivate people to take climate action.

Air doesn’t have boundaries

Our partners are working with campaigners across European and Asian cities, including London, Cracow and Delhi, to bring about policy change.

As well as supporting grass-roots movements like the Cracow Smog Alert, we’re bringing together businesses, governments and civil society leaders to make clear commitments to improve air quality and adopt solutions such as electric vehicles.

Anna says: “By protecting the air, you can kill two birds with one stone…by investing in air quality improvement, you can also invest in climate protection. Air quality can be a local thing, it can be a regional thing, because air doesn’t have boundaries.”