A classmate of the girl whose death was the first to be blamed by a coroner on air pollution has set up a campaign group with fellow teenagers to tackle the issue in their neighborhoods. Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died aged nine in 2013. She had asthma and lived near the South Circular, one of London’s busiest roads.
Anjali Raman-Middleton, 17, grew up with Ella and set up Choked Up with three teenagers in August to lobby against the pollution that killed her. She met the other founders, Destiny Boka-Batesa, Kaydine Rogers and Nyeleti Brauer-Maxaeia, on a training course with Advocacy Academy, a charity that teaches about campaigning.
They refer to themselves as “a group of brown and black teenagers who want the right to breathe clean air to be made law”. Ms Raman-Middleton said: “Me and Ella were in the same year at school and it was something that was really felt by us as a community, especially seeing the work her mother has done since her death to find justice for her daughter.”
“A group of brown and black teenagers who want the right to breathe clean air to be made law.”
Rosamund Kissi-Debrah fought to secure a fresh inquest into her daughter’s death not only to find out why she died but to ensure other parents never had to endure what she had to. The Commons environmental audit committee warned in 2010, when Ella had the first of 27 hospital visits after severe asthma attacks, that pollution caused 35,000 premature deaths in the UK.
“Air pollution is killing us and it is specifically killing people of color at a higher rate and the government can no longer ignore this,” Ms Raman-Middleton told The Times. “It’s something that they have to make sure they protect our communities from.” Black communities in London were found disproportionately more likely to breathe illegal levels of air pollution than white and Asian ones, according to a study produced for the mayor of London in 2016.
Lower average incomes and cheaper housing along busy roads contributes to the disparity, Ms Raman-Middleton said. She criticized the government for failing to set targets it would hold itself accountable to in the environment bill, published in August last year. Government objectives laid out in the bill include reducing the average level of fine particulate matter. There are no specific dates by which this will be done.
“Air pollution is killing us and it is specifically killing people of color at a higher rate and the government can no longer ignore this.”
The Times’s Clean Air for All campaign calls for clean air zones in all cities with illegal levels of air pollution, with the most polluting vehicles charged daily entry fees as in London. The campaign also calls for a Clean Air Act that would require the government to meet the World Health Organization’s recommended limit for fine particles everywhere by 2030.
A spokesman for the Department for the Environment said: “We know air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health, and though it has reduced significantly since 2010 there is more to do — which is why our landmark Environment Bill makes a commitment to set an ambitious target, alongside a further long-term target on air quality.”
Why did the chicken cross the road? To lay an egg. And why was it wearing a fluorescent vest? To protect it from the traffic, of course.
Sigrid the hen delivers her own punch line every morning as she flutters over a stone wall, crosses a road and wanders up a hill in her German village to lay a breakfast egg for Hans-Dieter Neuber, 82. The vest was bought by the chicken’s owner to alert motorists as she journeys through her village near the town of Detmold.
“I’ve been getting an egg delivery service for the past two and a half months,” Mr Neuber said. “We’re on first-name terms and she lets me stroke her.” The service is not free of charge; Mr Neuber pays her in food. “It’s a good deal,” he told The Times of London. “She delivers her egg, walks up to me, gets her feed and then she disappears and it all gets repeated the next day.”
Sigrid the hen crosses a road in her German village to lay a breakfast egg for Hans-Dieter Neuber, 82.
Sigrid’s owner, who also keeps a turkey and two peacocks, did not know about her daily excursions until Mr Neuber gave her a bottle of sparkling wine to thank her. The owner now straps a hi-vis jacket to Sigrid before the industrious bird goes to work in the morning.
Sigrid is fast becoming a media celebrity, with national TV crews descending on Detmold in recent weeks to film her deliveries. The idea of protecting poultry with luminous jackets isn’t new — a farmer in Hesse made headlines last October by putting one on her chicken Henrietta, who made a habit of roaming the streets.
Recently, Sigrid has been accompanied on her trips by the two peacocks she shares a field with. “But they don’t bring anything, they just scrounge,” Mr Neuber said.
Impressive though they are, Sigrid’s 54-yard commutes pale in comparison with the widely-reported odyssey of Inge, another red hen that gained fame in 2018 by escaping certain death at the fast-food stall she had been sold to. She made it over a five-foot wall and embarked on a two-month journey back to her farm three miles away in the eastern state of Brandenburg. Inge braved foxes, traffic and the weather, possibly driven by love for the cockerel Horst, from whom she had been separated. When she arrived back home, the farmer spared her life in reward.