Children, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals from the Midlands are cycling thousands of miles to highlight the importance of successful COP26 discussions if future generations are to inherit a habitable planet.
They are adding their support to NHS riders going from London to Glasgow to raise awareness of the health impacts of climate change - starting with air pollution and the air quality crisis.
Riders of all ages and abilities from across the region are being asked to donate ‘virtual bike miles’ to support the campaign and join them on their journey.
Dr Christopher Chiswell, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said it was important that the voice of young people was heard loud and clear on climate change.
He said: “The climate is already changing rapidly due to the impact of people, and every day of delay means we will lose even more. It’s vital we all step up and do our bit, as individuals, families, organisations and governments.
“The cycle ride highlights one of the major changes we need to see, shifting away from private car journeys, particularly for short trips and using more sustainable means.
“Cities like Birmingham need to change rapidly for this to be an easier choice, and our ride through the city centre will highlight how that change needs to begin right here.
“The NHS has made a commitment to be net-zero by 2040, and as a specialist trust caring for children, we feel the expectation to be at the front of this change. We’ve developed a new sustainability strategy and climate adaptation plan, and are ready to act today to secure their future.
“COP26 is a vital eleventh-hour moment in the fight for our children’s future, and I would encourage everyone to send in their miles to show we are in their corner.”
The Trust is encouraging everyone to log cycle miles on an online form over the next few weeks so they can be added to those clocked up by Ride for their Lives, a group of healthcare staff riding 800km from London to Glasgow and raising awareness of pollution along the way.
The group will arrive in Birmingham at the Think Tank Museum ahead of COP26 later this month to meet a group of young people and NHS staff who will ‘hand over’ their miles on behalf of the region.
On the day of their arrival Pollution Pods, an installation by artist Michael Pinsky which allows people to experience the air in the world’s most polluted cities, will be set up at Think Tank.
A report to Birmingham Council this month says that emissions from private vehicles need to drop by about 70% for the city to meet "decarbonisation targets" with air pollution in the city said to reduce life expectancy by six months.
Beth Davies, Chair of the Young Person Advisory Group at BWC, is supporting the campaign and will welcome the riders.
She said: “Climate change is negatively affecting many young people’s physical and mental health. Many of us don’t even see much of a future, which shouldn’t be the case. There is still hope that we can turn this around if significant changes are made. I can’t stress enough how much we need to work as a team to make this change, leading to better wellbeing and a safer world for the future. Please get involved.”