The Cure for Toxic Wildfire Smoke? Plant More Trees! South Gloucestershire Action on Climate and Nature Emergency Webinar, The UK 100

by | Jun 13, 2023 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

The cure for toxic wildfire smoke? Plant more trees! South Gloucestershire Action on Climate and Nature Emergency webinar, The UK 100



Trees have a remarkable range of traits that can help reduce urban air pollution, and cities around the world are looking to harness them. So much so that in January 2019, the mayor of London announced that 7,000 trees would be planted before the end of the following year. Meanwhile, China’s Hebei Province, home to Beijing, has been working on a “green necklace” of plants that could help reduce pollution from factories that surround the capital. And Paris is planning an urban forest that will encompass its most iconic landmarks in an effort to adapt to climate change, and also improve the city’s air quality.

While trees are generally effective at reducing air pollution, it isn’t as simple as the more trees you have in an urban space, the better the air will be. Some trees are markedly more effective at filtering pollutants from the air than others. To make the most difference in air quality in a street or city, it has to be the right tree for the job.

And, of course, trees are only a way to filter pollution; better is to reduce emissions of pollutants in the first place, notes David Nowak, a senior scientist at the US Forest Service who has been studying plants’ contribution to air quality for 30 years.

Plants are often seen as the “lungs” of an ecosystem because they absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, says Rita Baraldi, a plant physiologist at the Institute of Bioeconomy of the Italian National Research Council. But they also act as an ecosystems “liver” too, filtering atmospheric pollutants like sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide through their leaves.

Trees are particularly effective at removing particulate matter (PM), Nowak adds. PM comes in the form of tiny particles of organic chemicals, acids, metals and dust, emitted from fossil-fuel-burning vehicles and factories, as well as construction sites. The largest of these particles measure up to 10 micrometers across (known as PM10s), which is around a fifth of the width of a human hair. Then there are PM2.5s, measuring 2.5 micrometres across, and even smaller nanoparticle pollution.

 Silver birch, yew and elder trees were the most effective at capturing particles, and it was the hairs of their leaves that contributed to reduction rates of 79%, 71% and 70% respectively. In contrast, nettles emerged as the least useful of the species studied, though they still captured a respectable 32%. Conifers, like pines and cypresses, are also good natural purifiers. 

So come on. Let’s plant more trees.

DEEPER DIVE: WMO Report50/100 Campaign, Trillion Tree Project



Thanks to 33 of you, and our tree-planting partner, 1TreePlanted, we at The Climate have already begun planting our first 10,000 tree forest. Surf on over to and click on Feather River Restoration Project to see the work being done by to reforest that California forest. Help us plant our second 10,000 tree forest by donating to the 50/100 campaign.

As of today, Tuesday, June 123 we only have 320 trees to go. Visit and at the top of the page, click on the words, “Climate Champions” and donate $50 or $100—and plant 45 or 90 trees. Become a climate champion today. Now that forests are burning ON A MASSIVE SCALE, planting trees matters more than ever. Go to and at the top of the page, click on the words, “Climate Champions” and donate $50 or $100—and plant 45 or 90 trees. Become a climate champion today. And thanks.

DEEPER DIVE: WMO Report50/100 Campaign, Trillion Tree Project



South Gloucestershire is a unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of Gloucestershire, South West England. The unitary authorities of England are those local authorities which are responsible for the provision of all local government services within a district. They typically allow large towns to have separate local authorities from the less urbanised parts of their counties and originally provided a single authority for small counties where division into districts would be impractical.

But that’s not important right now. What’s important is on July 17, 2019, South Gloucestershire declared a nature and climate emergency. Its declaration includes 26 points. I suggest you click on the link in the Deeper Dive section of this story at to read through all of them. They are fascinating, relevant and serve as a template for other municipalities.  Yes, and that’s why South Gloucestershire’s climate and nature emergency matters to us. Here are the four most relevant parts of it:

  1. Declare a Climate Emergency;
  2. Pledge to provide the leadership to enable South Gloucestershire to become carbon neutral by 2030;
  3. To lobby the Government and Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, through the Council and our Ministers to Parliament, to reassess policy and investment to provide the tools to achieve Net Zero by 2030 and to provide assistance in the delivery of the Council’s timeline through new powers and resources;
  4. Sign up to the UK100 Pledge to provide the strategic community leadership needed to enable our communities to achieve 100% clean energy across all sectors.

The UK100 Pledge aka ‘UK100 Net Zero Pledge’  explicitly signees (UK Councils) to neutralizing their emissions by 2030 and those of their residents and businesses by 2045.

Now you’re up to date, and if you’d like to get up to speed, attend the South Gloucestershire 2023 Action on the Climate and Nature Emergency virtual event this Friday, June 16, scheduled from 2:30-3:30P, U.S. EDT. Click on the link in the Deeper Dive Section of this story @ to register.

DEEPER DIVE: South Gloucestershire Climate Emergency Declaration, UK100, UK100 Pledge, South Gloucestershire Virtual Event Registration



UK100 is a network of local leaders who’ve pledged to lead a rapid transition to Net Zero with Clean Air in their communities ahead of the government’s legal target. It was founded by Polly Billington, former Special Advisor in the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  With support from across the political spectrum, UK100’s primary purpose is to support a local-led rapid transition to Net Zero and Clean Air. According to its website, “We do this through collaboration. To accelerate action, we believe in bringing together the most influential leaders across the country to learn together and agree on priorities for legislative and regulatory change while empowering them to engage with national decision-makers. We provide our network with the knowledge, tools and connections to make this happen.”

UK100 does that through campaigns, events and a climate leadership academy. The campaigns focus on three areas: Climate Change, Clean Air and Green Finance.

Upcoming events (if you’re on the British Isles) include the Zemo 20th Anniversary Conference 2023 on June 15th, Clean Air Day (more on that later); responding to the Green Finance Strategy on June 20th and UK100 at MOVE on June 21st. Click on the link in the Deeper Dive section of this story at to find out more –  and to register.

The Climate Leadership Academy offers ambitious councillors a unique coaching opportunity to develop their political skills, knowledge and confidence, in order to become leading climate pioneers in local government. It occurs over three tailored residential weekends with panels and workshops shaped by climate pioneers within local government plus receive coaching from experts in the private, voluntary, and public sectors. 

Why does UK100 matter to us? Aside from the fact that it’s a great, franchisable idea (also known as a template) to rally and unite local government leaders, UK100 has some nifty slogans, like, “End the wait, insulate.” That’s one geared to attracting attention and movement to make social (we call it public) housing more energy efficient.

DEEPER DIVE: UK100, UK100 Events, Clean Air Day, Zemo Partnership