Professor Sunil Bhandari, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh’s Vice President for England & Wales today joined thirty UK health leaders including Presidents, Vice Presidents, Chairs, Directors, and Advisors from a number of organisations in a cycle across London as part of Ride for Their Lives, a global campaign to inspire action on air pollution and the wider climate crisis. 

The London cycle, which was coordinated by the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, brought together health leaders representing different areas of healthcare to highlight the impacts of air pollution and climate change on every area of health. The professions represented include medicine, surgery, psychiatry, paediatrics, general practice, pharmacy, chest and stroke physicians, students, and health editors.

Commenting Prof Bhandari said:

There are huge challenges around delivering sustainable health care and improving air quality but we must seek to meet these. Fundamentally, everyone deserves to be able to breathe clean air and we can take actions like encouraging our colleagues to get on their bike and consider other forms of sustainable transport.

 We must also continue to be innovative in the delivery of training and education to minimise our carbon footprint and the College is committed to making further progress in this regard.

Today was great in highlighting the importance of the UK health alliance on climate change and a need for collaboration and communication to drive the urgency and need for action and drive public health forward to address the climate crisis.

Chair of the UK Health Alliance, Richard Smith, said:

 The climate emergency is a health crisis. We want to draw attention to the threat to health from the planetary crisis but also to show that taking actions we need to take could improve health.

 Health professionals have an important voice in advocating for action to address the planetary crisis and we hope this cycle will inspire others to act.

Prof Ramesh Arasaradnam, Academic Vice President of Royal College of Physicians of London, said:

The Royal College of Physicians is proud to support UKHACC in its initiative to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on health. We have already seen the impact of air pollution on increasing the number of deaths.

As physicians, we are acutely aware that adverse changes in the climate directly affect the health and well-being of our patients. It also further widens health disparities. Hence it is a problem that we all need to work at to find a solution.

Dr. Fiona Godlee, former editor of the BMJ said:

We have to act urgently as a world to avert catastrophic consequences for human health and survival. This is going to require radical change to every aspect of how we live and work. Health professionals have a huge part to play in highlighting the dangers of the climate emergency and showing the benefits to health if we act now.

We can only do this if we work together, and Ride for Their Lives is a symbol of that vital collaboration, both in the UK and across the world. We want to inspire people to get informed about climate change and to get active in whatever capacity they can, as individuals, professionals, leaders, and citizens. We can't expect others to act if we do not.


The 15km cycle route passed multiple health organisations and hospitals in London. After the cycle, the health leaders joined a panel discussion, facilitated by former British Medical Journal editor Fiona Godlee, at the Royal College of Physicians of London.

Ride for Their Lives was launched in October 2021 when children's hospital staff and health sector leaders cycled from Geneva via London to COP26 in Glasgow. They delivered both the Healthy Climate Prescription letter and the World Health Organisation’s COP26 Special Report on Climate Change and Health to government delegates from both the COP26 and the COP27 presidencies. A legacy of the ride is an active committed network of healthcare providers determined to inspire action on the climate emergency and save children's lives.  The riders are entirely self-funded showing their dedication to inspire action.

This year, Ride for their Lives is calling on health providers and organisations to sign the Healthy Climate Prescription letter  - already signed by organisations representing 46 million health workers worldwide - and to join the call already made by WHO, UKHACC, almost 200 other health associations, and 1,400 health workers for governments to urgently develop and implement a global Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to end global dependence on fossil fuels, to protect the health of people around the world.  

Ride for their Lives is grateful to the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Climate and Health Alliance (GCHA), UK Health Alliance on Climate Change (UKHACC), Bupa, and many other organisations for their participation in the campaign.

On October 18, healthcare organisations set off on a  two-week ride to take the letter and call for the treaty from Geneva, through Italy to Naples, connecting hospitals along the way to deliver their messages to COP27 in Egypt.