May 2020 newsletter: ClairCity disseminates (in lockdown)

Inside this issue: ClairCity’s strategy for maintaining momentum for action on clean air and carbon reductions during lockdown. Read on to access ClairCity’s new graphics to help with your campaigning, and packs for community activists and educators to spread the clean air message on- and offline. In addition, find out about the projects exciting webinar series, taking place June 2020.

Read our digital edition below, or click the PDF image (on the left).

ClairCity Webinar Series

We’ve produced a series of webinars to share our findings from the ClairCity project. We’ve got something to suit everyone, so take your pick from the programme and register through our Eventbrite pages linked below. The speakers come from across Europe, and range from scientists to members of local government. They’ll be sharing tips and resources during the webinars, helping you to learn from their experiences and to make your work more effective. We look forward to seeing you!

FOR ALL ATTENDEES: please read the following document on how to use our webinar platform Blackboard Collaborate before signing in to the webinar: Blackboard Collaborate instructions

The webinars will be turned into learning materials in July, so stay tuned on social media for when they are ready.

Engaging citizens on air quality and climate change

Webinar 1: Thursday 11th June, 11:00-12:20 CET

Do you work in the environment sector, sustainability or are a policy advisor? Do you engage members of the public on air quality or climate change? Then this webinar is for you.

Learn from the experiences of a four-year Horizon 2020 research project that sought to engage citizens from 6 cities and regions across Europe. In total, 8302 citizens from all walks of life took part in varied engagement activities. The aim was to make our cities healthier places to live by influencing decision making processes on reducing air pollution and carbon emissions.

Hear from science communicators, game developers and engagement practitioners, and engage in discussion about the types of tools that work for different audiences, from mobile games to schools activities, the challenges and rewards of working with different cultures, and the steps that can be taken to keep the momentum going during times of disruption.

Dr Margarida Sardo and Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers (UWE Bristol, UK)

Andy King (PlayWest, UK)

Eva Csobod and Péter Szuppinger (The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe – REC, Hungary)

This event has ended. You can watch the recording here and read the FAQ of all unanswered questions here.

Citizens at the centre: adding people’s behaviour in the emissions, air quality, health modelling chain

Webinar 2: Thursday 18th June, 14:00-15:10 CET

Are you a modeller, mathematician or data scientist? Do you work in the fields of air quality, health or climate change? Then this webinar is for you.

The webinar will dive into the methodological approach for the innovative modelling in ClairCity, which aimed to include citizens behaviour in the classical modelling approach.

We didn’t just want to know the share of car emission contributing to local air quality problems – we wanted to add knowledge on who’s driving the cars and why. Understanding underlying practices allows for designing effective policy strategies and behaviour changes to improve air quality. – Kris Vanherle, TMLeuven

In this 70 minute interactive session, hear the international team of modellers highlight examples of how they dealt with this, and listen to them present key elements of the modelling on transport and residential energy use. Then gain case specific insights as they elaborate on a few key findings from the city’s that were part of the ClairCity project.

There will be several opportunities to ask questions, and you will come away with new insights and some useful resources to help support your work.

Speakers:

Kris Vanherle (TMLeuven, Belgium)

Vera Rodrigues (University of Aveiro, Portugal)

Angreine Kewo (Technical University of Denmark, DTU)

Enda Hayes (UWE Bristol, UK)

This event has ended. You can watch the recording here and read the FAQ of all unanswered questions here.

Lessons from putting citizens at the centre for air pollution and carbon reductions in cities

Webinar 3: Thursday 25th June, 15:00-16:30 CET

Are you a politician, mayor or regional representative? Do you wonder how to give a greater voice to the citizens of your city or region? Then this webinar is for you.

This session will focus on the ClairCity results of making policies together with citizens. The main policy lessons achieved across our six cities will be discussed in the context of citizen involvement. The speakers will reflect with attendees about the opportunities and costs for policymaking and policy implementation following greater citizen participation. Finally, the session will discuss what policy lessons the ClairCity method can offer to other middle-sized cities aiming at ambitious and citizen-inclusive air quality and carbon policies.

You will be joined by representatives from science, policy and local government, and we may have some special speakers to announce nearer the time.

Lucia Bernal-Saukkonen (DG Environment, European Commission)

Stephan Slingergard, Hans Bolscher and Irati Artola (Trinomics, The Netherlands)

Enda Hayes (UWE Bristol, UK)

Andrew Edwards (Bristol City Council, UK)

Svein Knudsen (NILU, Norway)

This event has ended. You can watch the recording here and read the FAQ of all unanswered questions here.

Citizens engaging policymakers on air quality and climate change

Webinar 4: Thursday 16th July, 12:00-13:00 CET

Are you a campaigner working for social & ecological justice? Do you care about your community and want to take action? Then this is for you

Climate change and air quality are social justice issues. Poor and BAME communities are disproportionately affected, with certain age groups (young and old), and those with existing health conditions (e.g. asthma) particularly vulnerable to air pollution.

Given the urgency needed to address these issues, how can we find the time to slow down and ensure our processes are inclusive? What works at engaging different communities and what lessons can we draw from campaign groups from different organisations working towards the same goals?

This webinar is a chance for you to hear from some of the most influential clean air and climate change campaigners from across Bristol, as they share their experiences from working with marginalised and at-risk communities. They will talk openly about what works and what doesn’t and you will have the chance to reflect, ask questions and forge connections. All participants will leave with a suite of tools and resources to improve their practice and ultimately the effectiveness of our collective mission to include citizens – and the natural resource base upon which we depend – in decision making.

Speakers

Sophie Laggan and Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, UWE Bristol

Zoe Banks-Gross, Playing Out

Our City Our Health, XR Bristol

This event has ended. You can watch the recording here and read the FAQ of all unanswered questions here.

Bristol residents support measures required to achieve cleaner air

Our research found that residents’ suggestions on tackling air quality reflect the ambition of the city to reach clean air compliance and net zero carbon emissions as quickly as possible, in line with the Government’s legal requirements. As part of our study, 1,400 Bristol people were asked what they want from their future city. Many indicated they would be willing to drive less in the future and adopt more pro-environmental behaviour.

Three-quarters (74%) of participants surveyed in the ClairCity study want to use public transport or active travel in the future, compared to 54% now. For shopping and leisure, 66% want to use public or active transport in the future, compared to 38% now.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is BAU-UPS-NOx-PM10-emissions-by-motive3.png

We found that if residents’ preferences were implemented, compliance with legal levels of air pollutant Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) would be reached in the timeframe required by Government. The study was conducted in 2017, before the announcement of the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) plan but the policies identified as being popular with citizens were similar to those being developed by Bristol City Council to achieve compliance in the shortest time possible.

In fact, our research showed that citizens supported measures that went further than those currently being developed. Implementing the policies identified by residents would also allow the city to achieve carbon neutrality sooner than current baseline policy ideas, the EU study revealed.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kilotonnes-CO2-eq-graph2-1-1024x655.png

ClairCity involved citizens in decision-making through a variety of methods, including surveys, workshops (in Brislington, Bishopston, Barton Hill, Knowle West) and an interactive game for smartphones called ClairCity Skylines. They were presented with possible policy measures and asked what they would support to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, as well as what enabling changes could be made to make adoption more favourable. Our modellers across the EU then took these ideas and quantified what the results would be.

The favourite policy measures that resulted from the engagement process were banning/phasing out the most polluting vehicles (not just charging vehicles); making buses greener and cleaner; making public transport cheaper, and creating good alternatives to car use – through better walking and cycling infrastructure.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Top-5-policies_Bristol-1024x512.png

Residents taking part in the study also called for a faster implementation of change or more ambitious targets to enable them to be more environmentally friendly. However, these engagements occurred prior to the IPCC report in 2018, which indicated there was a 12 year window in which urgent action on climate change. It is possible the suggested measures would be more ambitious if the research was conducted today.

Our Technical Director, Professor Enda Hayes, Director of UWE Bristol’s Air Quality Management Resource Centre, said:

“Citizens clearly seek ambitious targets to reduce air pollution and climate change causing carbon emissions in Bristol. Our research shows that citizen involvement in these discussions can spur on city wide action. People want to change but need support from our businesses, workplaces,  councils and national government if we want to live with clean air.

“The West of England is faced with the daunting task of reducing air pollution and carbon emissions to safe levels as soon as possible. These citizen supported ideas indicate that it’s not just about banning or phasing out polluting vehicles – the conditions have to be created so that citizens can access local amenities without polluting our environment and health. ClairCity shows that the task of future proofing the city can be sped up with the involvement of Bristol’s citizens.”

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, said:

“We have a duty to clean Bristol’s air, and we are currently working hard to achieve legal compliance with the Government’a air quality limits in the shortest possible time.

We welcome these findings and have made significant progress. As always, we will continue to engage and listen to people’s views as our plans develop further”

For the latest information on the clean air plans for Bristol visit https://www.cleanairforbristol.org/


Citizens at the Centre conference

CANCELLED: ClairCity’s final conference on citizen-led air pollution and carbon reductions

Sadly, we have decided to cancel the conference due to the COVID-19.

Written 1/03/2020: Although the Health Authorities in Belgium, the Netherlands and neighbouring countries have not yet advised against travel to the region, the number of consortium partners and external participants who have restricted travel instructions from their organisations and will not be able to attend, as well as possible restrictions on large gatherings to curb the spread of the virus, has led to us having to cancel the conference.

This is sad news for the 100+ people that we expected to gather and disappointing given the relevant findings from ClairCity that we aimed to present and discuss with you, and the hard work and enthusiasm put by the project team and speakers to make this conference happen.

That said, we are exploring potential ways to disseminate the results of ClairCity. We will soon get in touch again to invite you to a series of webinars where you will be able to see the presentations and sessions that we had prepared for the conference, as well as ask questions to our researchers and consultants.  

Cities throughout Europe are faced with the challenge of tackling local air pollution and carbon emissions. ClairCity has been working with citizens, decision-makers and cities across Europe to find out how the involvement of citizens in these decision-making processes can accelerate progress towards clean air and low carbon futures.

If you have any questions, please email Irati Artola.

Bristol’s air pollution

Our scientists have revealed why we cause air pollution and carbon emissions in Bristol through our transport choices. Surprisingly, car travel to shopping and leisure activities contributes over half of our emissions – that’s more air pollution than through commuting and business travel.

Across all ages, genders, and income brackets, leisure-time activities generate the most emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and PM10 (40%)*. The data also shows that people use different modes of travel to get to different activities and places – it is less likely to only use one form of transport for all activities. This is despite most current efforts to change travel behaviours being focused on rush hour travel, when people typically commute to and from work.

Air pollution causes five deaths per week in Bristol. Poor air quality disproportionately harms children and the elderly, causing respiratory diseases, cancer and exacerbating heart conditions. Bristol City Council is legally required to reduce air pollution levels and has recently released a Clean Air Plan.

The activities polluting our air are also the same ones producing carbon emissions – the major cause of climate change. Reducing carbon emissions in cities is critical to achieve major cuts in carbon globally, so reducing climate risks. Bristol City Council and the surrounding authorities have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Air pollution is a social justice issue

We also looked at what demographic groups create the most emissions. 26-49-year olds produce the most air pollutants, through greater use of their cars for leisure activities and commuting to work.

People with higher incomes travel more often by car than those from lower incomes – resulting in higher emissions. The overall proportions for travel to each activity stays the same, but the amount of travel, and therefore emissions, increases. This means that richer people travel by car to more work locations, more leisure activities, and more business trips.

Bristolian men contribute 10% more to road NOx emissions than Bristolian women (40% vs 30%). This is largely due to the fact they use their car for commuting and business more. Women and men contribute about the same NOx from buses, although they use them slightly differently.

How did we work this out?

A fine granular dataset of road transport emissions was generated that allowed source allocation not only at the typical level of travel choice (e.g. car, bus, taxi, cycling, walking etc) but also the underlying behaviour or motive (e.g. shopping, commuting, leisure etc) and socio-economic properties of the people travelling (e.g. gender, age, income etc). The scientists say the scientifically robust yet flexible methodology is designed to allow it to use different types of public datasets, which can be applied to different cities in similar fashion. Two produce these findings, they followed two steps:

  1. Create a network model of the city to understand traffic flows at links in road networks to calculate total emissions; and
  2. Merge the emission dataset from step 1 with national travel survey data, which include information on the underlying motives and socio-economic data of travellers of individual trips.

So now what?

Professor Enda Hayes of the Air Quality Management Resource Centre at UWE, Bristol is one of the lead researchers. He explains: “Traditional air quality and carbon policy has often been orientated towards addressing peak travel (i.e. morning and evening commuting) but this evidence helps to reformulate the air quality and carbon policy debate so that societal behaviour and the need for societal change becomes central to achieving low carbon, healthy futures for our cities”.

ClairCity has been involving city residents in future policy ideas since 2016.  Policy suggestions will be combined with citizen preferences and aspirations, in order to generate sophisticated future scenarios that model the options available to each city. This unique approach is raising awareness of air quality in our cities and ultimately allows us to work towards a future with clean air.

We can all make a difference to air pollution. There’s individual changes, such as choosing to change the way we get around the city; collective choices such as working with parents, colleagues, friends or campaign groups to influence group behaviour (e.g. walk to school clubs, cycle to work schemes); or systemic changes made by policy and law makers. We need change on every level – where can you make the biggest difference?

To help you make a change we’ve produced some shareable graphics for you – please download and share widely!

* Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) is a common air pollutant that comes from the combustion of fuels, such as diesel in cars. Particulate Matter 10 (PM10)’s are airborne particles so small that they can penetrate our lungs. PM10 and PM2.5 (even smaller) mainly derive from road transport, such as the dust that is released when we break, from tyres, road dust or from soot from exhausts.

Download our PDF full of shareable graphics – Tweet, post and print till your heart’s content!

December 2019 Newsletter: ClairCity Contributes

The latest edition of our newsletter is out now! In this penultimate newsletter, we share our latest findings, celebrate two successes from our colleagues in Aveiro and Sosnoweic, and give you the scoop on the latest air quality news. Click on the PDF or read the magazine version below.

Open publication – Free publishing

The politics of air quality management

In order to bring air pollution emissions back in line with EU law, tough decisions have to be made by business, governments and citizens across Europe. Such decisions generate resistance as it means a change to the status quo and the redistribution of power. But change is essential to improve our health and create a future with clean air.

A farming crisis

In October Dutch farmers took to the roads, driving their tractors to the Hague to fight back against new rules on nitrogen emissions. They felt they were unfairly treated and as a result several councils decided to scrap tighter rules.

Image result for dutch farmers protest

The Netherlands is currently experiencing a ‘nitrogen oxides pollution crisis’ largely attributed to industrial farming and vehicle emissions. Drastic changes are needed to fall within EU law to protect nature from these emissions, including several that will impact on the farming industry.

Farming is a leading cause of air pollution and climate change and many scientists believe we cannot protect our planetary life support system within the industrial model. Among the Dutch law changes are tougher emissions inventories for farmers and plans to change livestock feed to include an enzyme that reduces nitrogen emissions from cows. However, they will only be implemented if councils can remain united on these national regulatory measures.

Leaving no one behind

As the Dutch farmer case shows, those with the loudest voice (or rather biggest economic stake) have the biggest influence in decision making. What results is watered down measures to continue business as usual (link to our other blog), rather than the radical shifts needed to mitigate our current Climate and Ecological Emergencies. Indeed, over 11,000 international scientists have recently called for urgent action from politicians to stop ‘untold consequences’ of growing carbon and other emissions.  

In the UK a similar pattern is emerging. As a result of failing to tackle one of the root causes of pollution – the private car – transport is now the largest sectoral source of carbon emissions in the UK. Private cars take the lion’s share of these emissions and they are still rising.

Local councils have been left with the unsavoury job of trying to tackle the problem locally, in a political climate that invests in mass road building.

In Bristol, the City Council have spent the last several years preparing its Clean Air Plan. They have consulted communities across the city, including economically deprived areas, and spoken with businesses and various organisations.

If approved by Central Government, the city intends to ban all privately-owned diesel vehicles from entering the city centre from 7am to 3pm, daily, from 2021. “There would also be a wider Clean Air Zone (CAZ) where non-compliant commercial vehicles such as buses, taxis, HGVs and LGVs would be charged. A car scrappage scheme would also be launched” says the Council. “Modelling that informed this ‘hybrid’ approach shows the council can meet the government test for improved air quality in the shortest time possible (by 2025). The hybrid approach also reduces the number of lower income households directly affected by the measures.”

Bristol already has a growing number of cycle lanes and footpaths, along with e-bike hire schemes and hybrid electric buses, but more work is required to spread and connect these across the city, to increase their visibility and appeal. Continued consultations will be required to overcome barriers that communities face to ditching diesel. And in the long-term, changes in the design of neighbourhoods is required to minimise the need to take a polluting vehicle for work, leisure and shopping.

Clean air balancing acts

The process towards reaching net-zero emissions is clearly a challenge for decision makers, as is the nature of politics. Redistributing the centres of power – be that from farmers, car owners or others – will require persistence and collective power. The Climate Strikes and acts of rebellion this year are signs that this table is starting to turn. They are disruptive but they are also constructive, demanding that citizen assemblies be established so the collective voice of ‘the people’ can be amplified.

The ClairCity project offers evidence to support the important role citizens can play in the future decision making of cities and in particular the process towards a future with clean air and net-zero emissions. We will be releasing our results in the coming months so stay tuned for more information.