Panel host and speakers from our Air Pollution and Cancer event

During COP26, Cancer Research UK’s long-standing partner ScottishPower held an exclusive event, ‘Air Pollution and Cancer’, at their head office in Glasgow, the host city of the global climate summit. Our chief clinician, Professor Charlie Swanton, delivered the keynote speech and ScottishPower’s CEO of UK Retail, Andrew Ward, discussed a new area of interest for our continuing partnership, which has raised over £30m to help beat cancer since 2012.

A greener, healthier future

After renewing our partnership in March 2021, we wanted to give a new focus to our partnership messaging. Over the past 10 years, we’ve continued to innovate together to raise funds for life-saving cancer research. ScottishPower generates 100% green electricity and is committed to playing a leading role in the fight against climate change, so we wanted our partnership to reflect our shared interest in a greener, healthier future. Moving forward, ScottishPower will be helping us shine a light on air pollution, the impact it has on cancer and the need for more research into lung cancer in people who have never smoked. We’re thrilled that ScottishPower provided us a platform at COP26 to discuss our ongoing research in this area.

As a Principal Partner for COP26, ScottishPower hosted a series of events delivered alongside the official COP26 UN climate change summit programme. Professor Charlie Swanton is a world leader in the research of lung cancer, including lung cancer in people who have never smoked, and delivered the keynote speech at the renewable energy provider’s ‘Air Pollution and Cancer’ event, in which we announced that ScottishPower will be helping us raise awareness of this lesser-known cancer type.

The perfect partnership

The event began with an introduction from Andrew Ward, who discussed his passion for our partnership and the work we’ve done together over the past 10 years, as well as his excitement at the “natural evolution of our partnership to consider how air pollution can impact lung cancer in people who have never smoked”. Andrew went on to talk about ScottishPower’s commitment to generating 100% renewable energy through on and offshore windfarms, enhancing the electric grid, and helping homes and businesses decarbonise. All of this with a view to creating a greener, healthier future.

Professor Charlie Swanton then introduced a short film that explained lung cancer in never smokers and why it’s different to lung cancer in those who have smoked. You can view this film below.

Professor Swanton then discussed the impact air pollution can have on us throughout our lives, increasing our risk of not only cancer but other serious health issues too. Moreover, he explained the scale of the problem and how pollutants are more than simply an external environmental issue but can also be found in our own homes. Having discussed the role that pollutants play when they enter the body, he lauded our work with ScottishPower as the “classic example of a perfect partnership” as “ScottishPower’s efforts to become greener are supporting work that will reduce cancer incidence”.

The audience then heard from Brendan O’Hara, MP for Argyle and Bute, who shared the story of his brother Diarmid, who sadly passed away from lung cancer. Brendan spoke of the stigma attached to lung cancer and about how when hearing that someone has been diagnosed with the disease, there is an assumption of self-infliction through smoking. Brendan’s brother had never smoked a cigarette in his life and for Brendan, it is important to address this stigma and raise awareness of lung cancer in people who have never smoked and the need for more research.

We’re incredibly grateful to ScottishPower for giving us this opportunity to raise awareness for lung cancer in people who have never smoked, which is the 8th most common cause of cancer death in the UK. We can’t wait to see how our partnership develops as we work together towards a greener, healthier future.

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