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#RideforTheirLives at the UN Climate Change Conference

09.11.22

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Healthcare staff prescribe action to COP27 after epic journey


  • Global healthcare unites around Ride for their Lives - a cycling campaign to inspire action on air pollution and the climate crisis

  • 35 rides have taken place across the world in the run-up to COP27

  • Healthcare cyclists bring world leaders a treaty, report, editorial, and letter from millions across the globe, pressing them to act now

  • WATCH: Ride for their Lives session from COP27 Health Pavilion on November 9th, 13:00 EET (Egypt), 11:00 GMT **HERE**


On Wednesday 9 November, cyclists from Ride for their Lives speak at the UN Climate Change Conference to demand urgent action.

Ride for their Lives is a global cycling campaign founded by children’s hospital staff. It aims to galvanise action on air pollution and the climate crisis in the health sector and beyond. Health staff who rode this year will speak at a session in WHO’s Health Pavilion (13:00 EET (Egypt) 11:00 GMT **WATCH HERE**). They will explain why paediatric healthcare providers around the world are uniting through cycling to inspire action and will be joined by Dr Omnia El Omrani, the COP27 President Youth Envoy.

They deliver to COP27 the blue satchel containing the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty; the Healthy Climate Prescription Letter; an editorial entitled “Urgent action needed for Africa and the world” co-authored by the editors of 16 African medical journals; and the 2022 Lancet Countdown report on health and climate change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels. Written on the blue satchel are pleas to world leaders from the Young People’s Forum at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Dr Mark Hayden, a paediatric consultant intensivist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, UK and lead organiser of Ride for their Lives, said: We’ve carried the blue satchel many thousands of kilometres on multiple rides through many countries to amplify the call of health workers, children and millions of others around the world for decision makers at COP to take urgent action. I've been really thrilled to see how South America in particular has taken off and has organised rides. Ride for their Lives is about activating health care providers and creating collective local action outside of the COP process but also advocating for the decision-makers and politicians at COP to actually take global action. The climate crisis is a health crisis. Time is running out. We need an urgent and just transition away from fossil fuels.”

In the lead-up to COP27, there have been some thirty five rides under the Ride for their Lives banner. These include one-day rides in London, Brighton, Newcastle, Derby and Bristol in the UK, as well as Colombia and Chile in South America, and Montana, San Diego, and Minnesota in the United States.

Paediatricians from the UK undertook the longest ride - a two-week 1,500km route from Geneva to Naples. They were joined by the World Health Organisation, the International Hospital Federation and the Italian Cultural Association of Pediatricians.

Clare Scully, PhD, Director of Healthcare Insight, Bupa, UK said: I was incredibly proud to take part in the Bupa ride from London to Brighton, which brought together professionals from across the UK private healthcare sector. The sense of collaboration was palpable, with everyone involved seizing the chance to encourage each other on their sustainability agendas. Being part of this ride highlighted that by working together we can make an impact that none of us could achieve alone. Healthcare professionals have a huge opportunity to raise awareness and emphasise the role that we must all play to drive positive change. The conversations stimulated by our ride are already driving action within Bupa, including the development of a sustainable healthcare champion network.”

Claudia Paz Giraldo, Health Care Without Harm technical project facilitator for Latin America, Colombia said: “I joined Ride for their Lives as it was a great way to highlight the link between the climate crisis and health. The climate crisis is a public health crisis. As health providers, we have to raise awareness, make changes and take action. We arranged a ride around Cali, Colombia, visiting hospitals and clinics which are part of the Green and Healthy hospitals network and discussed concerns about the environment and taking actions including making hospitals more sustainable, using bikes and reducing the use of fossil fuels. We hope to do more rides before the year ends.”

Chelsea Kuiper, student representative for Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate, US said: "It was an honour to be involved in one of the first Ride for Their Lives in the U.S, which was organised by a committed team of students from the University of Montana with physicians and hospital administrators joining too. Inspiring conversations emerged from the day and new plans for education, action, and advocacy to tackle the health impacts of climate change in our state. We must continue to organise more rides to inspire action on the climate crisis for children's futures."

Dr Heather Lambert, a retired paediatrician from the Great North Children's Hospital, UK said: I have been riding all year, including from Geneva to Naples. As paediatricians, we are taught that if you can see harm being done or illness being caused, you should first remove the cause of that illness. We know air pollution is causing illness and death in children so I have a professional and moral obligation to do anything I can to reduce it. We know that active travel, including cycling, is part of the solution, so using bike rides to create conversations, form collaborations and promote actions is an obvious thing for us to do. As major studies show time running out for preventing irreversible climate breakdown.”

Dr Chinthika Piyasena, consultant neonatologist at the Evelina Children's Hospital London, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, UK, said:This campaign, including the ride from Geneva to Naples, is an opportunity for us to meet up with children’s healthcare providers and also policymakers, and cycling organisations. Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. We want policymakers to listen to the voice of paediatricians on behalf of our patients and for them to take urgent action to make our planet a safer place to live.”

Ride for their Lives launched in October 2021 when children's hospital staff and health leaders cycled from Geneva to COP26 in Glasgow to push world leaders to take decisive action. A key legacy of the ride is an active, committed network of healthcare providers determined to shift the world’s climate trajectory to save children’s lives. The riders are entirely self-funded, showing their dedication to inspire action.

Ride for their Lives 2023 is already underway. Routes are being planned in Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Kenya and Morocco, as well as the United States, United Kingdom, Chile, Colombia and Switzerland.

ENDS/

Notes to editors

WATCH: Ride for their Lives session from COP27 Health Pavilion on November 9th, 13:00 EET (Egypt), 11:00 GMT **HERE**:

Photos of Rides for their Lives are available here

Previous press releases available here

For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact

jo@climateacceptancestudios.com and +447969 083 371

Tom@climateacceptancestudios.com and +447740 647 023

Speakers for the event on the 9th November and where they rode in 2022:

  • Dr Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, Head of Climate Change and Health Unit, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health (ECH), WHO: rode Geneva to Milan

  • Dr Omnia El Omrani, COP27 President Envoy of Youth

  • Dr Camilla Kingdon, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health: rode around five hospitals in London



Ride for their Lives is grateful to the World Health Organization, Bupa, UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, Global Climate and Health Alliance, Health Care Without Harm, Medical Consortium on Climate and Health, International Hospitals Federation, University Hospitals of Geneva, Union Cycliste Internationale and many other organisations for their participation in the campaign. We are also grateful to the individual healthcare providers who act to protect the planet for our children.



Ride for their Lives

Map of this year's rides can be found here. Twitter @_RFTL

Ride for Their Lives launched in October 2021 when children's hospital staff and health sector leaders cycled from Geneva via London to COP26 in Glasgow. On that occasion, they delivered the Healthy Climate Prescription letter and WHO’s Special Report on Climate Change and Health to government delegates from both the COP26 and incoming COP27 presidencies. Building on the success, this year the campaign has gone global, and, in the lead-up to COP27, many rides took place in the UK and abroad.

This year, Ride for Their Lives is calling on health providers and organisations to sign the Healthy Climate Prescription letter, and support the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty - both press governments to deliver on climate action.

The rides connected hospitals, healthcare and cycling organisations. They have inspired conversations and collaborations throughout the healthcare community, sparked ideas and forged connections among professionals.

Ride for their Lives has already inspired action. Healthcare staff are improving the sustainability of institutions, for example by signing up for the Clean Air Hospital Framework, introducing sustainability training, and hiring sustainability officers. They are also spurring their organisations and professions to declare a climate emergency, lobbying local councils to make streets safe for kids, and campaigning for urgent national and international action on air pollution and the climate crisis.

Bupa: Bupa is the sponsor of the Ride for their Lives. About Bupa’s Environment and Climate Action:

Bupa's purpose is to help people live longer, healthier, happier lives and make a better world. For 75 years, we’ve been taking care of people’s health. Today, we understand that to continue to do so, we must take care of the health of the planet too because healthy people need a healthy planet. It's our mission to minimise the impact of healthcare on the environment, to find more sustainable healthcare solutions, and to create healthier, greener spaces where people can thrive. Underpinning this ambition, we have set science-based targets to become a Net Zero business by 2040, to help make a better world for our colleagues, customers, communities, and wider society.

Air pollution and the climate emergency:

Air pollution is one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, alongside climate change. Almost 99% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution levels exceed WHO guidelines. The cause of air pollution is largely the same as climate change - the burning of fossil fuels. This means the solutions can be the same – renewable energy, electric mobility, public transport, and active travel.

The Royal College for Paediatric and Children’s Health states that almost all children (more than 99%) are exposed to one or more climate and environmental risks to their health. UNICEF estimates that approximately one billion children - nearly half - are at ‘extremely high risk of impacts from the climate crisis.

WHO states that air pollution is "one of the biggest environmental threats to human health, alongside climate change” and almost 99% of the world’s population live in places where air pollution levels exceed WHOs guidelines.

The causes of air pollution are often the same as the causes of the climate emergency – the majority of air pollution is from burning fossil fuels for power, transport and industry. And because the causes are largely the same, the solutions can also be the same - renewable energy, electric mobility, public transport, and more walking and cycling.

Globally, air pollution kills an estimated 7 million people a year. In the UK it causes an estimated 28,000-36,000 premature deaths a year - including that of 9-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, who died in 2013. In a landmark case in December 2020 the coroner named air pollution as a cause of death.

Air pollution contributes to respiratory conditions like asthma, lung cancer and heart disease. Evidence is emerging that it also contributes to dementia, low birth weight and type 2 diabetes. Increasingly it is being linked to mental illness as well as physical illness. Recently the World Health Organisation tightened its guidelines on air pollution levels, describing it as “on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking”. As with the climate emergency, kids are worst affected. They are closer to exhaust fumes, their lungs and brains are still developing, and they breathe faster. Air pollution has been linked to low birth weight and premature birth. These serious early life events have life-long health consequences.

Poorer children in urban settings are most exposed, increasing the impact of social inequalities.

Climate Acceptance Studios: believes that who is delivering messages on the climate and nature crisis is as important as the message itself. We exist to support the most trusted and influential voices in society as they raise the alarm. We develop campaigns, such as Ride for their Lives, and produce content designed to foster collaboration between different groups already focused on the problem and inspire more to action. We are focused for 2022 and 2023 on the international healthcare community.