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.

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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.

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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.

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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/


ClairCity Skylines

It’s time to save your skyline!

ClairCity Skylines is a unique policy-making strategy game where you are the mayor, you make the rules, and only you have the power to unlock a successful clean-air future for your city.

Visit areas representing environment, economy, health, and satisfaction. Collect ideas for city policies that you think sound good, then visit city hall to turn them into law.

Policies you create will have consequences for your city and citizens, and you must unlock a clean-air future in less than fifty years. but be careful! If your city goes bankrupt, gets too polluted or if your citizens get too unwell or unhappy with their lot in life it’ll be game over!

The app is available for download for each of our five partner cities: Amsterdam, Aveiro, Bristol, Ljubljana and Sosnowiec.

By playing this game, your anonymous policy making decisions will contribute to the ClairCity.eu research project for air pollution and policymaking.  Download the app for Android or Apple now!

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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.