In October 2020, we joined others in declaring a climate emergency and established a Climate Change Working Group. We have since been running our three-year climate change programme, an identified priority in our 2021-24 strategy, with involvement from 80 of our members who have been working hard to deliver the commitments in our climate change action plan.
Our focus on climate change over the past three years has delivered significant impact, and our top-scoring advocacy has enabled us to become established as a leading voice in the health and climate space. Our work is by no means done; and climate change remains the greatest global health threat facing the world in the 21st century.
We are therefore delighted to be announcing the next phase for our work on this important area. Through our hard work and impact to date, we have secured a significant grant from the Clean Air Fund, enabling us to continue this work – with additional, dedicated resource – for at least the next two years.
The Clean Air Fund is a global philanthropic organisation working with governments, funders, business and campaigners to create a future where everyone breathes clean air. Air pollution poses the biggest environmental risk to public health and is a particular risk to vulnerable groups, including young children, and those with existing health conditions.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH President, said:
I am delighted that we have secured funding from the Clean Air Fund, enabling us to continue and expand the important work we do around tackling climate change for the next two years.
All children deserve the opportunity for the best chance for a healthy start in life. Exposure to air pollutants during pregnancy and early childhood can have harmful and irreversible effects on the development of the lungs and other organs leading to potential long-term health effects well into adulthood.
Evidence of the broader impact of air pollution on children’s lives is becoming increasingly clear showing it is likely a significant driver of poverty and widening health inequalities with emergency admissions for asthma strongly associated with deprivation and poverty.
Our vision is for child health (and children and young people’s voices) to be a central driver for mitigation and adaptation actions to tackle climate change and air pollution, and for child health professionals in the UK and internationally to be equipped with the tools and skills they need to champion policy change for cleaner air.
Through this two-year partnership, our work will be focused on achieving three overarching objectives:
- Advocacy: To effectively use child health professionals’ collective voice and expertise to influence the national and international climate change agenda, focusing on health impacts of air pollution faced by children and young people now and in future
- Education: To develop and promote training and best practice for RCPCH members on air pollution, climate change and sustainable healthcare, including communication about the health harms with patients, families and communities
- Research: To advance and support the narrative that all children have a right to breathe clean air and amplify children and young people’s own voices on this topic, particularly those in most affected communities.
You can read more about our work on air pollution and climate change to date here.