October 2019: Doctors Protest Against Air Pollution in UK

Posted by: HealthXR - Posted on:

Doctors for Extinction Rebellion lay 110 pairs of shoes on steps of Trafalgar Square to mark number of deaths each day from air pollution

“Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century – the impacts will be felt all around the world – and not just in some distant future but in our lifetimes and those of our children.” The Lancet

  • Doctors for Extinction Rebellion protest about illegal air pollution with march from Shell HQ to Trafalgar Square
  • Doctors lay out shoes to represent the 40,000 excess annual deaths in the UK (110 a day)
  • Government negligence in addressing the public health crisis has been found to be illegal three times and London has never met the legal limits on pollutants since they were introduced in 2010

Hundreds of doctors and health professionals today (Saturday 12th October) joined Extinction Rebellion protesters to fight a ‘health emergency’ as thousands of Brits die each year from air pollution. With 40,000 excess fatalities annually, 110 pairs of shoes were laid outside the Houses of Parliament to highlight the number of weekly deaths in the capital.

Dr Rita Issa, GP and co-founder of Doctors for Extinction Rebellion said: “In Tower Hamlets where I work, children have 10% reduced lung capacity due to air pollution. Globally, four million cases of asthma globally are the result of air pollution from vehicles – that’s 11,000 cases a day. We must act now to reduce the immediate impacts on lung and cardiovascular health, and to address the climate crisis.”

Dr Anya Gopfert, a public health doctor said: “Air pollution is responsible for 9,400 London deaths per year and seven million deaths globally. It is also a drain on our public resources, responsible for more than three thousand excess hospital admissions in London a year, due to short term exposures to toxic air”.

Dr Alex Armitage a paediatric emergency medicine doctor said: “The government has a duty to protect its citizens. Instead, it is allowing fossil fuel companies to steal our children’s future. As health professionals, we’re the ones who will have to witness the suffering which will ensue. Let’s tell everyone to get on the streets. The need to take action has never been more urgent”.

The doctors marched from Shell HQ via Parliament and met Extinction Rebellion’s Grief March (from Marble Arch to Russell Square).

The protest was carried out by Doctors for XR, which formed earlier this year, whose membership has since grown to more than 500. Despite the professional risks that doctors face from being involved in the movement, the group believes that direct, peaceful protest is needed to address the severe threat to life posed by the current climate crisis.

The doctors have added to the criticism of the government’s 2050 net zero target, arguing that it is insufficient to protect young people alive today or future generations. In addition, they believe that recent Government actions fail to adhere to the recommendations of climate scientists, their legal obligations under the Climate Change Act, and their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Email: press@risingup.org.uk, ritaissa88@gmail.com

Phone: +44(0)7811183633 | +44(0)7561098449 | +44(0)7780602722 | +44(0)7479243522

Spokespeople: Dr Rita Issa +44(0)7708921568; Dr Chris Newman +44(0)7715469737; Dr Anya Gopfert +44(0)7522934210

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About Extinction Rebellion:

Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and abrupt, runaway climate change. Societal collapse and mass death are seen as inevitable by scientists and other credible voices, with human extinction also a possibility, if rapid action is not taken.

Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their Government.

Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:

1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.

2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.

3. Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

What emergency? | Extinction Rebellion in Numbers |This Is Not A Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook.

Get involved:

● In the UK, come to one of our events, join the Rebellion Network and let us know how you can help out.

● Start a group where you are: in the UK or around the world.

● Find your local group.

● Check out the International XR website, with links to the French, German,

Italian and UK websites.

● And while your time and energy are of most importance, if you are financially

able to donate money, see our crowdfunder. About Rising Up!

Extinction Rebellion is an initiative of the Rising Up! network, which promotes a fundamental change of our political and economic system to one which maximises well-being and minimises harm. Change needs to be nurtured in a culture of reverence, gratitude and inclusion while the tools of civil disobedience and direct action are used to express our collective power.