Genova Policy workshop

25 people partecipated at the Policy Workshop, 11 from Liguria Region (different departments: environment, infrastructure, health), 1 from IRE (company of the Region that deals with infrastructures, building renovation and energy), 3 from ARPAL (Environment Agency of Liguria region), 1 from Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority (which includes Genoa, Savona and Vado Ligure ports), 3 from Genoa Municipality, 1 from AMIU (Multiservice and urban hygiene company) and 5 from the staff of ClairCity project (3 from Liguria region, 2 from Techne Consulting). The high number of participants expresses the complexity of the policies for the city of Genoa concerning road transportation, mobility, ports, energy, strategic infrastructure of national and European importance. 

Why business as usual is just not good enough

ClairCity has been modelling emissions scenarios for each of their partner cities across Europe to figure out whether they are on track to meet air quality and carbon emission targets. Ahead of the Global Strike for Climate on September 20th and Zero Emissions Day on September 21st, we speak with our head modeller Kris Vanherle from TML in Belgium about ‘business as usual’ and whether that is enough for a future with clean air.


Why business as usual is not enough
Example of emissions modelling, showing how current pledges (business as usual) will almost certainly exceed 2° C warming. Source: World bank (2012). Turn down the heat. Why a 4˚C warmer world should be avoided.


So what is business as usual?

A business as usual (BAU) scenario is used as a benchmark to assess the impact of new policy measures in alternative emissions scenarios. Typically, the BAU scenario takes a central/conservative estimate of technological changes. Most importantly, they ONLY considers confirmed policy measures taken in the past that have a prolonged effect in the future.

A typical example in the case of air quality is emission standards of new cars (the so-called EURO-standards). While this policy measure is fully implemented, the impact takes some time to come into full effect because of the slow pace of vehicle replacement.

Apart from policy measures, a BAU scenario typically takes a central/conservative estimate in new technological evolutions – think electric vehicles. As well as a central/conservative estimate in non-technical trends such as population growth and/or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. For variations in key trends it is possible to produce a range of figures, or a “bandwidth” for an expected future without further policy action.


What has your modelling revealed in ClairCity?

When assessing the BAU scenario in the ClairCity project, we’ve found that air quality will improve over time. This is due to existing policy measures coming into full effect, in combination with generic technological trends. These trends include the uptake of electric vehicles and lower domestic energy demand with new building techniques.

However, air pollution is not solved in full in the BAU scenario, which means that people will continue to suffer the health impacts. Even zero-emission electric vehicles cannot solve the problem due to particulate matter emitted from tyre and brake wear and tear. Moreover, the pace of improvement is slow and will continue to lead to exceedances of EU air quality limits in the immediate future. This leads to a twofold challenge: how to solve the immediate issue of exceedances of air quality standards; and how to develop new measures to improve air quality in the long-run.


What do you recommend we do about this?

On the basis of ClairCity findings, we recommend further (policy) action at two levels. Firstly, to ensure air quality is within current standards for human health, we need strong action to reduce pollution levels immediately. Examples of effective measures to address this are restricting access for polluting cars in city centres or banning the use of solid fuels for residential heating (and actually enforcing the ban!).

Secondly, action is also needed in the long-term as it is expected air quality standards will tighten further as evidence mounts for the adverse health effects from even low levels of pollution. To achieve compliance to more stringent targets and under continued pressure from concerned citizens, city authorities in particular will have to be more ambitious. This will require developing a more profound long-term strategy to fundamentally solve the problem of air pollution and carbon emissions.


What will that involve?

This will involve measures that have a strong yet gradual effect in the future and will impact the very core of the city. This means changing how we get around in the city, moving away from private car transport to more active travel, and requiring a fundamentally different strategy from city authorities in terms of public infrastructure investment. More ambitious urban planning and building codes for new buildings could also lead to zero-emissions of houses.

School Strike 4 Climate - Be Part of the Solution not the Pollution
School Strike 4 Climate Zagreb Demonstrations

We can see in the BAU scenario there is clear progress, but this is not enough to stop the impacts on human and planetary health.

ClairCity is urging for more action in the short-term to avoid air pollution exceedances and carbon emissions, and to achieve a future with clean air for all.




Zero Emissions Day happens each year on September 21st. It raises awareness of the need to act on air quality through a 24-hour Moratorium on the use of Fossil Fuels:

The Global Climate Strike takes place from September 20-27th and is connected to School Strike 4 Climate (Fridays for Future).

ClairCity has been producing resources for citizens wanting to act on these issues. Find them in our Take Action section or click on the cities above to find out how you can take action locally. We’ll be adding more resources in the coming months so stay tuned!



ClairCity annual conference 2018


The ClairCity annual conference 2018 took place in our partner city of Sosnowiec, Poland on 25th April 2018.

It was attended by a range of local, national and international organisations and interested participants, as well as our ClairCity team and External Advisory Board members. The day was split into four sections, covering different issues. Click on the links below to see the slides from each presenter. These links cover two of the four sessions from the day. A full selection of all presentations will be available shortly.

European and international experiences

The (re)emerging problem of solid fuel use and PM emissions in Bristol and the UK (Bristol City Council) Andy Edwards

Pro-environmental behavioural change: Role of personalised informational intervention (iSCAPE project) Muhammad Adnan

Integrated air pollution management in Delhi city (Indian Institute of Technology) Mukesh Khare Residential wood combustion in the Nordic area (NILU) Susana Lopez-Aparicio

ClairCity project presentations

The ClairCity process – bringing the evidence together & ClairCity Skylines app. Enda Hayes (NO GIFs)

GreenANTS app. Mirjam Fredriksen

Delphi process and citizen voice. Jim Longhurst

Modelling behaviour in heating and transport. Kris Vanherle


Our local contacts in Sosnowiec made this short report about the event.

Genova Mutual Learning Workshop

Si è svolto Martedì 27 Marzo 2018 presso la sede della Regione Liguria il Mutual learning workshop del progetto ClairCity. Il Workshop ha coinvolto i differenti portatori di interesse (stakeholders) coinvolti nelle problematiche e nelle politiche ambientali e della salute. Una trentina di partecipanti hanno condiviso le loro visioni sui fattori di rischio allo stato attuale e in scenari futuri a differente scala temporale (2020-2030-2050)

Genova Delphi Workshop

Si è svolto Giovedì 22 Febbraio un workshop del progetto ClairCity con un gruppo molto motivato di cittadini genovesi al fine di discutere i risultati del secondo questionario. In particolare l’attenzione è stata dedicata alle misure per ridurre l’inquinamento atmosferico e migliorare l’impronta di carbonio. Alcuni tavoli di lavoro hanno discusso sulle idee e sulle proposte che sono emerse dalle risposte ai questionari ed hanno fornito utili indicazioni da riportare ai decisori.

ClairCity: tackling air pollution through social innovation

Evidence shows that efforts to clean up vehicles have failed to deliver the predicted air quality improvements and CO2 emission reductions necessary to meet legal, health-based targets. Consequently, a more holistic approach is necessary to help us achieve cleaner, healthier air.  The ClairCity project aims to show how air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are not just the result of polluting technology, or of individual choices, but instead are closely linked to the ways in which we organise modern society.

Different cars, same traffic jams

For many years, air quality policy has assumed that clean air and carbon reductions could be largely achieved through technological measures. To date air quality management has created a world populated by chimneys and vehicles, analysed through forecasting and models built upon average usage characteristics and emission factors, and consisting of polluting machines and objects. This view gives very little consideration to the people and the social frameworks that comprise such a world. This results in human behaviour being left largely untouched by policy, in a state of Business As Usual (e.g. by introducing cleaner cars, but allowing traffic flows to continue increasing).

Therefore, despite great successes at the end of the last century, the process of cleaning up (particularly light duty) vehicles has now run in to problems. Failures to achieve anticipated real world reductions in emissions is leading to widespread exceedences of European Limit Values, and relatively new but highly polluting cars are being locked into our vehicle fleets for the next decade or more. It is becoming increasingly evident that we will need changes to both behaviour and lifestyles to achieve our social and environmental goals. This need is evident not just in terms of air pollution, but also co-benefits in terms of greenhouse gases, noise, public space and so forth.

Technical measures and new opportunities

Our review work has shown that the measures included in typical high-level air quality plans tend to be disproportionately technical in nature and aimed at tackling specific sectors, for instance passenger transport or delivery of goods, or specific industries. Even where air quality plans attempt to go beyond command-and-control measures and aim at changing citizens’ behaviour they are predominantly limited to infrastructural/service investments and subsidies to less polluting vehicles and domestic appliances.

There is evidence to suggest that there is an increasing interest shown by policy actors in the role of the public. However, to date there has been little air pollution specific work on which to provide support to policy in this area.  From academic literature, there are three core ways in which the public have been designated a role in relation to air quality management. These are:

1) As relatively passive receptors of pollution;

2) As recipients of information about pollution concentrations, based on which they will change their behaviour to reduce their exposure;

3) As approvers of public policy, for example through assessments of their willingness to pay for cleaner air.

In terms of policy, there will occasionally be specific behavioural interventions but these usually take individualistic approaches, often treating travel activities as a matter of open choice, without detailed consideration of social and structural factors that lie behind people’s everyday decisions. One of the few examples of policies with a broader vision is The Cleaner Air for Scotland plan in the UK. This document strongly emphasises the need to look beyond individual circumstances and choices and understand what determines people’s choices, including not just material barriers but also norms and expectations.

Learning from others

To support this shift in air quality management, we look towards related fields of policy and research that have already addressed some similar concerns. There has been considerable work on both the psychological and sociological understanding of behaviour in the areas of transport and energy consumption, however there is little direct involvement of air quality management processes with the basic evidence base and theoretical approaches that have been developed there. Where behavioural interventions have been taken up into air quality management plans, this tends to have been done by simply selecting a set of off-the-shelf measures rather than a greater involvement and understanding of the social science evidence and research behind it.

Therefore the aim of ClairCity is to support air quality policy and management in incorporating a broader social science approach. We hope to show how new thinking about the role of people in relation to air pollution can change the options for action for cities and policy makers. As a project, we will demonstrate the practical applicability of this holistic approach by putting citizens at the centre of air quality management in our six pilot cities and regions.

Tim Chatterton, Laura De Vito, Eva Csobod, Peter Szuppinger and Gabor Heves

This is an edited extract from the ClairCity report “Review of Social Science in Air Quality and Carbon Management” which will be publicly available in mid-2018.

The story behind ClairCity

Our project team have been working across academia, government and civil society to share the ClairCity project. We are sharing our outcomes, but also explaining the theory behind the project, why we think it is important to involve citizens in air quality research projects and how we have put this in action within ClairCity. Here are two presentations that give some of the academic background and communication strategy behind the project.

This presentation was given at the Bristol Natural History Consortium “Communicate 2017” seminar series by Tim Chatterton, Corra Boushel and Laura Fogg Rogers to an audience of academics and practitioners in science communication.

The following presentation by Corra Boushel focuses on the communications strategy for ClairCity for EASME – the European Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises. This presentation was part of an event aimed at other European funded projects who are planning their communications.

Po Valley project launch

ClairCity partners from Italy attended the launch of the PREPAIR project (Po Regions engaged to policies of air) at the start of June. PREPAIR involves 18 national and international partners, and aims to promote more sustainable lifestyles, production and consumption, as the region fails to meet air quality limit values for particulate matter, ozone and nitrous oxides. The focus of the action is specific awareness-raising and dissemination actions directed at public, private and local communities.

Project presentations, including the ClairCity poster on the left of the photo.

The project will establish a near-real time web-based system for sharing air quality and emissions data and air quality models. Measures will focus on four main sectors: biomass burning, energy efficiency, transport and agriculture.

Alongside ClairCity, other projects linked to air quality and carbon emissions were also presented during the conference, including LIFE IP (Implementation of Air Quality Plan for Małopolska Region – Małopolska in a healthy atmosphere) and The Life project BrennerLEC: towards a Lower Emission Corridor, that aims to make traffic along the Brenner axis more respectful of the local population’s health and more compatible with the geographical features of the land, in order to protect the Alpine environment.

Carlotta Ghirardo, Regione Liguria