The bank for a changing world

Cleaner air for Londoners

  • 20.11.2018

Since 31 October, users of Marylebone station in central London have been breathing cleaner air thanks to an ambititous partnership led by  BNP Paribas with Airlabs, JCDecaux and Chiltern Railways: a surrounding air filter system has been installed in various parts of the station.

Improving air quality in the city

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 92% of the world’s population is exposed to harmful air pollution. In fact, poor air quality in cities is fast becoming more concentrated due to urban infrastructures that retain pollutants and greenhouse gases from transport and industries, creating hotspots, i.e. areas of peak air pollution.  To help tackle this issue, a British green-tech company called Airlabs has developed a technology that combines atmospheric chemistry and airflow engineering alongside a proprietary dual filter system combining nano-particles. Sound complicated?  Not really.  Simply stated, it is a filter, which draws in dirty air, cleans it, and then pumps out healthy, clean air into the area surrounding the system.  The result is the creation of clean air zones where more than 95% of all fine particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), pollutants and greenhouse gases (nitrogen and sulphur oxides, ozone, etc.) is removed, meaning Marylebone can breathe easy.

Investing in business to create positive impact 

Convinced that finance should play a key role in reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and fully committed to impact investment, BNP Paribas’ objective for this project was twofold.  One, bring immediate benefit to the 450,000 weekly users of the station and local community of Marylebone, a neighbourhood known for its poor air quality.  And two, raise awareness of the fight against air pollution and the importance of UN Global Goals

Air pollution is a public health emergency causing seven million premature deaths annually. We therefore welcome BNP Paribas’s leadership and contribution to restoring clean air, a basic human right. Air pollution and climate change can seem insurmountable, but when the power of innovation is unleashed, and the private sector takes on its responsibility we can overcome these challenges for current and future generations” said Assistant Secretary General Satya Tripathi, UN Environment.

BNP Paribas in the UK, which has its head office near Marylebone station, therefore contacted Airlabs to use their new technology and Chiltern Railways to get their buy in. JCDecaux modified the existing Out Of Home advertising sites in the station to house the filters.  The result is that Marylebone is the first UK train station to offer clean air zones, which will benefit millions of people as well as help demonstrate the Group’s desire to:

  • support start-ups involved in green tech
  • collaborate with clients and local partners to create positive impact
  • make SDGs the focus of its financing and investment policy 

Photo credits : header ©Pio3 // BNP Paribas UK

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