Children increasingly concerned over air pollution

Half of UK school pupils are worried about air pollution near their school, while more than three fifths don’t think adults are doing enough to tackle climate change.

The new survey, from Sutrans, questioned 1,305 pupils aged six to 15 years old across the UK about their attitudes towards air pollution and the climate crisis.

Of those surveyed, just over three fifths (62 per cent) don’t think adults are doing enough to tackle climate change, while 71 per cent of the pupils admitting to feeling worried about climate change. Additionally, just over half (53 per cent) believe that adults don’t listen to children’s concerns about the topic.

Four out of ten pupils thought more people walking, cycling or scooting to school was the best way to bring down levels of air pollution near their school, and a similar number thought that walking and cycling more for local journeys was the most important thing adults should be doing to tackle climate change overall – the highest-rated answer.

The survey also revealed that: 57 per cent of pupils described the environment around their school as having too many cars; 30 per cent of pupils are ‘worried’ and 29 per cent are ‘sad’ that transport makes more greenhouse gases in the UK than anything else, with private vehicle use, especially cars, making up the biggest part of this.; and seven times as many pupils want to cycle to school and five times as many want to scoot to school more than they currently do. Whilst two per cent currently cycle, 14 per cent want to, and whilst two per cent currently scoot to school, 10 per cent would like to.

Xavier Brice, CEO of Sustrans, said: "The results of this survey highlight the responsibility we have to create a healthier, greener and fairer society for the generation coming after us. There are a large number of cars on the road during the morning peak doing the school run. But swapping everyday journeys such as how we travel to and from school from private cars to active modes of travel can help cut dangerous levels of air pollution in our towns and cities which have a detrimental impact on the environment.

“That’s why we’re asking local election candidates and elected officials to ensure that every child has the opportunity and confidence to walk, wheel, scoot or cycle safely to school. They should be able to do this by using high-quality walking and cycling routes and to accelerate the roll-out of school streets. Let’s ensure our recovery from Covid is greener, fairer and healthier for everyone."

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