by | Jun 4, 2024

Reflections from an SMK National Campaigner Awards winner: Dr Kush Kanodia

In this blog, Kush Kanodia, a champion for equality and inclusion, reflects on being the winner of this year’s Campaigner of the Year Award at the SMK National Campaigner Awards. As someone with lived experience of disability since childhood, Kush is passionate about improving the quality of life for disabled people through his work and campaigning. Read all about his campaigning achievements here.

Sometimes it feels as citizens that we cannot make change in the UK or for the largest systems in the world. This blog I wrote after my win shows that together we can transform the largest systems in the world, from the Premier League, NHS England to Greater London.

Campaigner of the Year

I am truly delighted and honoured to receive the Campaigner of the Year Award for the ground breaking campaign – Eco Ableism – The Disability Discrimination from London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

When our politicians and the political parties who are meant to be serving us, fail us, we the citizens have to take charge and create change for ourselves!

The Campaign: Eco Ableism

This campaign focuses on the cutting edge of not just the disability rights movement but also the climate change movement. Climate action must go hand in hand with climate justice and social justice to stem the tide of growing poverty and inequality in our society.

The “Eco Ableism” campaign focused on the adverse effects of London’s ULEZ on disabled people. Introduced in October 2021, to Inner London during the height of the pandemic and cost of living crisis, both were having a disproportionate impact upon disabled people.

The Office of National Statistics reported that approximately 60% of Covid19 deaths were disabled people, when disabled people only amounted to 17% of the population. Furthermore, Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Destitution in the UK report highlighted that of the 3.8 million people who experienced destitution in 2022, almost two-thirds (62%) of the survey respondents reported having a ‘chronic health problem or disability’.

ULEZ aimed to reduce pollution by charging older, more polluting vehicles a daily fee of £12.50. However, it failed to provide reasonable adjustments for the approximately 1.2 million disabled Londoners, many of whom rely on vehicles to access essential services to participate fully in society.

Achievements and Impact

No person can transform a system by themselves, it has to be from a “Me” to a “We”. I partnered with many Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations from Inclusion London to Action Disability Kensington & Chelsea.

Our relentless advocacy has already yielded significant results:

  1. Exemptions and Adjustments: Over 280,000 disabled individuals receiving Department for Work and Pensions benefits can now be exempt from ULEZ charges. The grants for wheelchair-accessible vehicles were increased from £2,000 to £10,000, and exemptions were extended to carers.
  2. Policy Inclusion: The campaign influenced the inclusion of disability needs in climate-related policies, as outlined in the Disability Action Plan 2024. This plan ensures that the needs of disabled people are considered in ULEZ and CAZ policies.
  3. National and International Influence: The campaign sets a precedent for eco-ableism, aiming to create a standardised policy across the UK to exempt Blue Badge holders and inspire international best practices. Glasgow has already exempted disabled Blue Badge holders from its Clean Air Zones, showcasing the campaign’s growing impact.

However, Birmingham and Bristol have replicated the original disability discrimination from London’s ULEZ without implementing the further reasonable adjustments.

Looking Forward

Winning the SMK Award is a testament to our impactful work and the critical importance of intersectionality between climate action and disability rights. The award will further bolster the campaign’s efforts, enabling strategic support, travel, and advocacy to extend these vital adjustments across England’s Clean Air Zones.

In a society that often places politics above humanity, our work reminds us that true progress lies in inclusivity and fairness. By addressing the intersection of environmental sustainability and social justice, we pave the way for a more equitable future. Together, let’s build a society that is greener, more accessible, and inclusive for all.

For more information about our work and to support the campaign, visit

Kush Kanodia

Kush Kanodia is a social entrepreneur and disability rights champion, leading system transformations in the Premier League, NHS England, and Greater London.



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