Help ClientEarth save 10,000 Londoners with a campaign revealing the extent of the city's pollution problem


At The Drum’s Do It Day, ClientEarth, a charity that funds activist lawyers intent on harnessing and altering environmental law to help secure a cleaner planet, will be on the hunt for creative ideas to help spread awareness of the mortal harm caused by air pollution.

Starting at Plan It Day in London next Thursday, creatives will be asked to focus on cleaning up London, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, which boasts around 8.7 million people but endures around 10,000 early deaths caused by air pollution each year - according to a study from the Royal College of Physicians.

ClientEarth believes the law is the best way to tackle the planet’s pollutants and is hoping to derive greater public awareness around its work, especially in London, as it hopes to create a visual and informative campaign to hit home how unhealthy the capital is to inhabit.

Active on social media, the group often keeps followers informed of the high profile legal landmarks it achieves, and at least online it can visualise just how much damage is being to the environment by air pollution. Recently it leveraged the latest data to express the scope of the problem.

Simon Alcock, communications and public affairs manager, and Tim Reid, director of communications, shared with The Drum that the brand hopes to collaborate with the creative talent attending Plan It Day and expand beyond its social media footprint and its regular media coverage to physically make a connection with Londoners.

One idea floated was to in some way create visual indicators in London parks that could inform joggers and locals just how toxic the air is, showing just how far gone even the city’s greenspaces are. Alternatively, the brand could look to utilise digital advertising to provide real-time pollution and emissions data in bad air hotspots. The solutions are endless but undoubtedly, Do It Day will a healthy springboard for the initial plan.

However, the initiative is just a minor step in the overall strategy, ClientEarth’s website claims: “The major threats to our planet are global and the solutions must also be global. The biggest environmental issues - climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and land degradation – are economic and security issues too.

“The world is constantly presented with new pressures which create the need for new solutions. Climate change requires fresh thinking for markets, investors and carbon-intensive industry. Businesses, governments and individuals all have a part to play in protecting the environment around us.”

Although the group receives substantial media coverage with its legal victories across the EU, it is intent on mobilising Londoners to the cause by showing them, using visual and innovative means, just how polluted the city is. Do It Day gives the group the chance to design and initiate a grassroots PR campaign.

Having held the UK government to account for breaching nitrogen dioxide limits set out in the EU’s Ambient Air Quality Directive, the group also won a landmark legal case on the continent in 2015 against North Rhine-Westphalia to improve the air quality in Aachen, Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Stuttgart and Wiesbaden by imposing greater restrictions upon diesel vehicles. This ultimately banned the automobiles from city centres, legislating an effective solution to a far-reaching problem.

Earlier this month, a King’s College London study showed that air pollution policies are starting to have an effect in some hotspots. On this gradual change which ClientEarth helped achieve with its lobbying and hard-fought legal campaigns to keep the UK government on track, group lawyer Alan Andrews (pictured) said: “This study shows that Londoners are still breathing dirty and illegal air with the vast majority of monitoring sites still recording levels of pollution above the legal limits.

“The mayor is showing significant ambition to improve air quality and we support many of his proposals. But he needs to go further and faster to meet his legal and moral obligations to protect people from harmful air pollution.

“This study should also send a clear message to the UK government that much more ambitious and bold action is needed. Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, which is why we will be back in court in October to force the government to act.”

Like what you hear, want to help tackle the brief and clean up London as part of ClientEarth’s Do It Day challenge? Then sign up for Plan It Day here and help The Drum prove that marketing CAN change the world.

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