Brake, the road safety charity is calling on people to support world Earth Day on 22 April 2016 by making sustainable travel choices. The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “plant a tree” to help combat climate change, as trees absorb excess and harmful CO2 from our atmosphere.
76% of trips less than 5km long are made by car, many of which could be made by foot, bike or public transport. That’s why Brake is encouraging people to plant trees and also to consider if their journeys can be walked, cycled or taken on public transport instead to help protect our environment.
Road safety is more than driving safely and legally, it’s about making our streets safe and pleasant for everyone to use freely, and doing everything we can to protect ourselves, our environment, and people around us. A big part of that is driving less, as little as possible, or not at all if you can. It’s common for people to habitually walk the few metres from their front door to their car and drive, even if they’re only going round the corner. People who walk or cycle often have to face busy streets and fast traffic in towns and cities. In many rural areas there is no access to public transport and a lack of safe cycling and walking routes.
Air pollution is a threat to health, with around 300 premature deaths each year attributed to it in Auckland alone. The social cost from air pollution in Auckland is estimated to be $1.07 billion per year.
Earth Day is now in its 46th year and aims to plant 7.8 billion trees before its 50th anniversary.
Caroline Perry, Brake’s NZ director, said: “From our work with bereaved families we see the devastation caused by car crashes, but there is more than one way a vehicle can kill you. Emissions from vehicles are a serious concern and contribute to poor air quality and associated diseases. The World Health Organisation is describing air quality as a public health emergency. We’re encouraging everyone to get behind Earth Day and also think about how they travel and whether journeys can be made by foot, bike or on public transport to help keep our planet greener, cleaner and healthier.”
Make the Brake Pledge for safe and sustainable travel at www.brake.org.nz/pledge.
About Earth Day
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other ground breaking environmental laws soon followed. Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. It is now run by Earth Day Network.
 Air quality report card – Auckland urban area, 2014, Auckland Council, http://stateofauckland.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/air-quality-report-card/urban-auckland-reporting-area-2014/.