Air pollution is estimated to cause the equivalent of 40,000 early deaths in UK annually. It is a critically important issue in this region and elsewhere:

  • the West Midlands is one of the worst hit areas outside London – government figures show air pollution is responsible for almost 3,000 deaths a year in the region; and
  • in Birmingham alone, there are 38 nurseries and 30 schools within 150 metres of a road where emissions of NO2 are above the legal limit.

Despite this, many people don’t seem to realise they and their children are breathing some of the UK’s most polluted air.

Colmore Business Improvement District (BID) is working with Birmingham City Council to help raise awareness. They challenged us to ‘do something to improve our own and our fellow employees’ health’ and we were delighted to encourage people across the firm to consider ways to change their behaviour to reduce their contribution to air pollution.

This is not as straightforward as it may sound. Many of our employees already travel to work by public transport, on foot or by bike. Few drive into the office and most of those who do will be transporting files of sensitive correspondence to a client meeting, or have other good reasons for doing so. As a law firm with a social purpose, we are keen to encourage a meaningful response – it would mean little for those of us who already arrive using public transport to pledge to leave our cars at homes.

We are delighted that so many people chose to participate in National Clean Air Day and the picture above shows some of us who cycled to work. We hope that many will extend their efforts through the year – helping to make every day a clean air day.

Of course achieving real improvements to air quality will require action from local and national government and strong political leadership. In that context, we are delighted to say that the next in our occasional series of seminars on environmental themes will focus on air quality, with speakers from:

  • Client Earth, the charity that has hit the headlines repeatedly with legal challenges designed to encourage the government to act urgently to deliver a plan to reduce air pollution to within legal limits; and
  • The Cyclists’ Defence Fund, the charity that brought a crowdfunded private prosecution earlier this year highlighting inadequacies in decisions made by the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to a road traffic collision in which cyclist Michael Mason was killed.

For further information

For more information or to register your interest in attending, please contact Shivaji Shiva.