Manchester researchers create links with air pollution campaigners

Earlier this year, a team of researchers from The University of Manchester and other universities have attended Evidence Week in Parliament to discuss issues around air quality with parliamentarians, before a House of Commons debate on the matter.

Today, following up from those discussions during Evidence Week, representatives from the charities British Lung Foundation, Friends of the Earth Manchester and ClientEarth came to Manchester to meet academics and hear more about the research currently being conducted at the University.

The discussions were not just about the latest science - they also discussed how researchers can better engage with policymakers in Greater Manchester to help the city reach ambitious zero emission and air quality targets.

It was clear that there was a huge appetite from the researchers around the table, representing a range of disciplines, for putting their research findings into the hands of policymakers in a constructive way. But there was also a real openness about an offer to help those within Transport for Greater Manchester, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and other local authorities to act as a sounding board for policy options.

The new Manchester Environment Research Institute brings together researchers from across the University to address challenging multi-disciplinary environmental problems. Air pollution is currently one of the most important public health issues we face. MERI is coordinating the University's research in this area and forging links with policy makers and other key stakeholders to best target our research to help develop solutions.

I was part of the expert group contributing to Evidence Week in Parliament who were informing members about the latest knowledge on air pollution. It’s vital that the research continues to inform policy, and part of ensuring that happens is speaking to all those lobbying Government around policy on air pollution to help keep the science part of that discussion.
Professor Hugh Coe, Director of the Manchester Environment Research Institute

Andrea Lee, ClientEarth: “We’re very keen to forge links with experts across the UK, and I’m extremely grateful to these researchers for taking the time to come and brief us on the latest developments in their fields. It helps us when it comes to informing our own policy priorities, and it strengthens our case when we know the science supports the arguments we’re putting forward in holding governments and organisations to account.”

Pauline Castres, British Lung Foundation: “It is so important for researchers to work with groups outside of academia and today was a great opportunity for us to see what research was going on at the University of Manchester. Earlier this year we launched the Clean Air Parent’s Network in Manchester to enable parents to support local policy changes to protect children’s health, and understand the crucial work researchers are doing. We’re very keen on collaborating, especially on projects investigating the impact of PM2.5, and hopefully we’ll be able to make something happen after today.”

Pete Abel, Friends of the Earth Manchester: “Manchester has done a great deal to promote itself as a safe, age-friendly and green city. But there is lots more to do to improve the air quality of the city and today was a chance to see what the cutting edge research can tell us. As a campaigner I need to keep on top of this, and it’s much easier to do that when researchers are keen and willing to engage!”.

Professor Sarah Lindley, Geography, School of Environment, Education and Development: “Those of us who research Greater Manchester as part of what we do are always looking for ways in which to raise awareness, deepen understanding and influence positive change across the conurbation. Today’s event was a great opportunity to meet with representatives from some key organisations and discuss options for influencing wider UK decision-making.”

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