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28 May 2019
A SCHOOLBOY’S artwork showing the world choked by traffic fumes has launched Glasgow City Council’s flagship Clean Air Day event in George Square.
Samuel Ribier, aged six, a pupil at St Vincent’s Primary School in Carnwadric, Glasgow, drew ‘Sad World’ to highlight the damage caused by polluting cars to people’s health and the environment.
It was part of in-class projects involving pupils from several Glasgow schools to design art which aimed to raise awareness of the air quality problems caused by petrol and diesel cars and the health benefits of cycling and walking.
Samuel’s artwork caught the eye of Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener of the Sustainability and Carbon Reduction Committee, and it was turned into a poster by SEPA to launch the city council’s free public event in George Square which takes place on Clean Air Day, Thursday June 20th.
Samuel, and another St Vincent’s pupil, Beth Kelly, 10, whose artwork was also turned into a poster, joined Councillor Richardson, bus company bosses and other participants at the launch outside the City Chambers.
The posters will be attached to their school’s railing to remind parents of the benefits of cycling, walking and using public transport to cut air pollution. Around 65% of car journeys in Scotland are less than 3.1 miles.
The French-born youngster moved to Glasgow with his family from Lyon a year ago and regularly cycles to school with his mother.
Samuel designed ‘Sad World’ – which conveys the message ‘Keep Our Air Clean’ - after taking part in a classroom discussion about air pollution. He said the picture showed how “people are polluting the world.”
His mother Marianne, 33, said: “We are so proud of Samuel.”
She added that Glasgow’s air quality issues were not as bad as in Lyon where cars are banned from the city centre during severe pollution episodes, but she added that people in Scotland can do more to cut pollution by cycling, walking or using public transport more often.
Marianne added: “I am concerned about people driving their children to school when they don’t live very far away. We live nearby and cycle to school.”
Samuel’s teacher Patricia O’Keefe, said her primary one class read up on air pollution on the internet, watched videos and discussed the issue before designing the artwork. She added: “A few pupils suffer from asthma and we looked at how poor air quality in particular affects people with respiratory conditions.”
Clean Air Day is a national event which is being coordinated by the charity Environmental Protection Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government’s Cleaner Air For Scotland (CAFS) strategy which aims to make Scotland’s air quality the best in Europe. Clean Air Day’s wants people to consider ditching polluting petrol and diesel vehicles and to take up active travel, use public transport or consider buying an electric vehicle.
The city council introduced Scotland’s first Low Emission Zone (LEZ) on December 31 2018, initially for buses, but will include cars and other vehicles from the end of 2022, and will devote most of the square to Clean Air Day activities on June 20.
There will be musical performances, displays of electric vehicle, car clubs and an electric taxi. People will be able to try out eBikes and conventional pedal cycles and there will be details of the ‘City Ways’ cycle paths initiative. Budding Danny MacAskill’s can even hone their BMX skills on a mini-stunt track.
Picnic tables will be laid out on a street closed off to traffic for the event outside the City Chambers. Organisers are hoping for a good turnout from local school children to find out more about the city council’s efforts to raise the bar for air quality and active travel.
Councillor Richardson said: “Clean Air Day is a fantastic, free outdoor event dedicated to highlighting what we can all do to improve the quality of the air we breathe.
“We know that air pollution is bad for our health and that it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in our society. We’re determined to clean up Glasgow’s air and our trailblazing Low Emission Zone which we introduced last year, is testament to that pledge.
“The emission standards set for our city centre LEZ means that only the cleanest vehicles will be able to enter the zone. This, combined with our many other air quality initiatives, and projects that support the uptake of sustainable and active travel, are all making a positive impact on Glasgow’s air quality.
“Events like Clean Air Day are a great way to increase awareness of the actions we can all take and I can’t wait to come along and experience all it has to offer. All are welcome so please come down to George Square on June 20th and take a look”.
Fiona Doherty, Stagecoach West Scotland Managing Director said: “Stagecoach are delighted to attend and support the Clean Air Day campaign on June 20th with one of our Euro VI double decker coaches.”
She added that the operator had invested in a number of Euro VI buses and coaches including the latest double-deckers.
Mrs Doherty added: “Currently buses emit four times less grams per passenger kilometre than the average petrol or diesel car. Buses have the potential to massively reduce congestion and improve air quality. Following the introduction of the LEZ in Glasgow in December 2018, NOX levels have fallen significantly, and while the current standard requires 20% of our vehicle journeys to comply we already have a compliance level of 75%.
“We are proud to be leading the way in cleaner air for our towns and cities and hope that events like this encourage more people to use the bus and improve congestion and their environmental footprint.”