Our final newsletter is here! Six months after the project has ended, find out how our case study partners have been making use of ClairCity outputs and continuing to tackle the climate and ecological emergencies head on.
Over the past four years the ClairCity project has been gathering public opinion on the policies they would like to see implemented to improve the quality of the air we breathe. Over 800,000 citizens were engaged in some way, with over 9,000 direct engagements. The project developed mobile games and apps, hosted workshops and webinars, attended public events, ran school lessons and reached out to marginalised communities to involve a representative group as possible in city decision making across six European cities and regions (Amsterdam, The Aveiro Region, Bristol, The Liguria Region, Ljubljana and Sosnowiec).
After citizens preferences were gathered, they were sense checked with policy makers and then modelled to determine whether their ideas could lower carbon emissions and air pollutants faster than business as usual – and overall they did! While citizens often agree with most of the policies already on the table, they ask for greater speed and implementation to reach net zero carbon emissions and pollution levels that meet WHO guidelines.
For their ambitions to be realised, the loop has to be closed between what citizens want and decision making, from local and regional and beyond. Given the set up of the ClairCity project, it was uniquely placed to facilitate this feedback mechanism. Comprised of universities and SMEs, the project already had established connections with local government and lobbying organisations. Thus, following the production of policy reports for each case study, each local/regional team presented the results to these actors.
In Bristol, the team presented their report to the Bristol Climate Change Advisory Committee, appointed by the current government to inform their work in this area, and sent the report to 80 local Councillors and MPs.
In the Aveiro Region, their report was translated into Portuguese and emailed to the Intermunicipal Community of Aveiro region (CIRA) and government representatives. Given the restrictions placed by Lockdown, it was not possible to present in person by the time the report was available.
Similarly, Sosnowiec had their report translated into the local language of Polish and forwarded it to over 30 governmental departments, government representatives and lobbying groups. The Mayor of Sosnowiec then decided to discuss the policy package during the joint meeting of the Mayor and all his deputies. The Chairman of the City Council obliged all members of the Sosnowiec City Council to familiarise themselves with the contents of the Package and in August, the document was discussed in detail by 2 committees of the City Council:
- the Committee for City Development and Environmental Protection
- the Committee on Municipal Economy and Communication
The Chairman has invited members of the ClairCity working team in Sosnowiec to participate in the meetings.
While we may not know exactly what role ClairCity played in influencing local and regional decision making it is clear that the project team have laid seeds in the minds of various influential actors, who are interested to take a closer look at the results and what they mean.
All of the case studies had to rethink their dissemination activities in light of COVID 19 and understandably this has become a priority for decision makers. However, in spite of this, these issues still want to be discussed. Perhaps it is even because of the growing evidence linking air pollution, health impacts and viral risks that these conversations are gaining traction. Either way, for these six cities and regions, there exists policy packages for each of them that can make inroads in addressing multiple interrelated development issues, which are not only ambitious but have the backing of citizens. We hope these packages will continue to be shared and we welcome interest from other cities and regions looking to carry out similar co-creation processes for cleaner air, healthier citizens and equitable outcomes.
Watch our policy webinar to learn more about the policy packages and our co-creation process, and read the policy briefs here.
Citizens engaging policy-makers on air quality and climate change
How do we get to the scenario in the top-right hand corner of the above image? A scenario where a given city is both ambitious about its clean air and climate change policies and its citizens are involved in the decision-making process? That is the question sustainability scientists have been grappling with for a number of years, and that the ClairCity project sought to explore. Drawing on the latest social and political science and pollution modelling, the research team set to work in understanding the context of their partner cities and regions, engaging citizens through various creative means to gather their preferences, and presenting the outcomes to key city decision makers to influence decision making*.
Around 820,000 citizens were involved in some way or another, with approximately 8,500 directly engaged. The project spoke with people on the streets, at festivals, on webinars, and through various formal and distributed dialogues across each city or region to increase representivity. There was a mobile game, videos of people’s lived experiences, and various schools’ lessons and activities, all designed to spread the ClairCity message and capture the voice of citizens. The project was the largest of its kind and perhaps one of the most creative.
And what did it find out? An overwhelming willingness by citizens to change, and a real appetite for greater policy ambition and speed of implementation. For instance, citizens that drive today, largely want to drive less in the future and choose more sustainable alternatives for their commuting, shopping and leisure trips – across all cities and regions. Many want to choose renewable fuels in the future also, although cost is a big barrier for some cities across Europe. In some cities a lack of awareness on certain sources of air pollutants, in particular wood burners, may be a limiting factor to citizens’ ambition – or alternatively, citizens may not feel able to challenge authorities to do something about these issues and therefore choose not to raise them**. All in all, the willingness was there, but more often than not barriers existed to prevent change from happening sooner.
When local citizens’ top policies were presented to policy makers in their city or region many agreed with their level of ambition, although in some instances they were slowed down, largely as a result of cost. As always with politics, a lot of negotiation and compromise is involved, often bound tightly by purse strings. However, as has been shown in Amsterdam, sometimes you can get a situation where the local government is so ambitious that its citizens are rushing to keep up.
As ClairCity comes to a close in 2020, Covid19 has proven to be a window of opportunity in which to accelerate air quality improvements across Europe. While an awful tragedy, the pandemic opened up fertile ground to push for more ambitious walking and cycling policies. Although the intention was to make places safer for public health (and indeed air pollution worsens coronavirus), the result is still the same – fewer cars on the road and more people on the streets. In The Netherlands they initiated Holiday Streets, in London, England the Mayor committed himself to making central London one of the largest car free spaces seen anywhere in the world, and in Milan, Italy they announced plans to turn 35km of streets to make more space for cyclists and pedestrians. And to ensure the environmental message wasn’t lost, Extinction Rebellion activists took cycle lanes into their own hands in several cities across the UK.
Ultimately, we all have a part to play in acting on these issues. Beyond individual change and technofixes, real momentum can be built through joining together as communities to amplify the message and show the will of citizens, and if done in dialogue with people in positions of power, there is a chance policy may begin to change.
As a result of the ClairCity project, we’ve produced a whole host of resources to support such groups! We have an Educator Pack full of lesson plans and activities, including postcards to send to people of influence and Clean Air Top Trump cards – print them out and use in your next schools outreach day. There’s also our Community Activator Pack, for activists old and new, wishing to reach more marginalised voices and champion their voices in decision-making. Every person’s actions makes a difference, but by joining together we can have a unified voice of the many to bring about change.
Join us this Thursday for our final webinar, which will see organisations from across Bristol sharing their experiences of engaging diverse audiences around these issues and championing their voice to influence decision making.
*Find out more about the process here: www.claircity.eu/our-story
*Find out about the priorities of citizen’s in each of our cities and regions here: www.claircity.eu/reports
On 20th May Vera Rodrigues, one of ClairCity’s modellers from the University of Aveiro, participated in an initiative organized by the municipality of Oliveira de Azeméis to bring children into the conversation about climate change, and discuss what can be done about it.
The municipality has been proactive in tackling social-ecological issues, with an Adaptation Plan for Climate Change and an Education for Sustainability strategy. Under this framework, they organize an event every year called The Week for the Changing Climate (in Portuguese “Semana pelo Clima (S)Em Alteração”), in partnership with the Department of Environment and Planning of the University of Aveiro. This event aims to raise awareness and inform young people of climate change, its consequences, and the actions we should adopt to adapt and mitigate climate change.
Due to COVID, this year they needed to adapt, with the municipality, together with the high school Escola Soares de Basto, instead opting to organise four webinar sessions. In total 9 classes of approximately 210 students attended the sessions, from years 5 and 6 (9 – 12 year olds).
“My talk was about climate change, with a special focus on our actions to adapt and mitigate climate change,” explains Vera. “The title was inspired by our climate change infographic: A better future is possible – how will you play your part?”
“It was really interesting to notice the enthusiasm of this students! I think they are in a particular stage of their lives, where they are very curious and surprised about the situation. I had a lot of reactions about “is it still possible to control this problem”.“
During the ClairCity project Vera and her colleagues worked with a number of schools in the Aveiro Region to raise awareness of the health impacts of air pollution and climate change, and involve students, in the form of a school’s competition, in clean air and zero carbon decision making. One of the participating schools also attended these webinars, testament to the strong relationships developed throughout our engagement process.
If you are a young person or educator wishing to act on air pollution and climate change then head to our take action page.
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)
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.
Kris Vanherle (TMLeuven, Belgium)
Vera Rodrigues (University of Aveiro, Portugal)
Angreine Kewo (Technical University of Denmark, DTU)
Enda Hayes (UWE Bristol, UK)
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)
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.
Sophie Laggan and Dr Laura Fogg Rogers, UWE Bristol
Zoe Banks-Gross, Playing Out
Our City Our Health, XR Bristol
Different things appeal to different audiences. With this in mind, ClairCity tailored our approaches when working with different groups and in different contexts. In addition to traditional methods (surveys, workshops) we partnered with local organisations to hold distributed dialogues in community spaces. We also worked with educators to produce schools resources, with developers to produce games and Apps for young adults and tech fans, and with older people to produce films documenting their lived experience of air pollution. These mixed methods ensured a full spectrum of engagement approaches were deployed, maximising our chances of reaching both the general population and more vulnerable groups. As a result, over 8,000 people got involved across Europe, and we had over 770,000 social media impressions (see below).
During our engagements we asked participants about their current behavioural practices as well as their preferred future behaviours and policies for the city in 2030/2050. We opened up for discussion on the gap between their present and future behaviours (if there is one) and what would be required to close the gap.
If you would like to learn more about our approach and how it can support your campaigning then download our community activator pack (high resolution copies of all reports and graphics available upon request):Community Activator Pack Visual Evaluation Report Evaluation Summary Report
A total of 4,887 citizens participated in ClairCity’s Delphi process. Each city and region conducted surveys, on- and offline, followed by additional face-to-face workshops.
During the process, citizens were challenged to think about their behaviours – “If you want to change, what are the reasons why you can’t currently?”. Subsequently they explored difficult policy options and discussed how they could be made easier. For example, a common behaviour citizens wished to change in Liguria was driving – many are willing to drive less. A possible policy measure is to introduce a ban on all private diesel and petrol vehicles from the city centre. According to citizens, to compensate for the elimination of the private vehicle from the roads it would be essential to have frequent public transport and on all the time slots.
Striving for representivity, partner organisations in each case study region defined groups that were likely to be under-represented in their sample, and used their resources and networks to ensure more effort was put into recruiting these groups. For example, this involved street surveys in a region to neighbourhood with a higher non-Dutch population in Amsterdam, attending community festivals in poorer neighbourhoods in Bristol, and using connections through the network of local authorities across the Aveiro spread the survey to a non-urban public.
As a result, the project was able to pool together the collective knowledge and experience of a broad range of local people’s travelling and home heating habits and the opportunities and problems faced in their cities or regions.
Are you a researcher, policy maker or organisation interested in how you can make use of our process in your work? Then click on one of the following:Health or Sustainability Organisation Policy Maker Researcher
We engaged more than 1,500 young people directly during the engagement process, with hundreds of thousands so far reached online and through our downloadable schools resources. We’ve been featured in the British Science Associations annual British Science Week schools pack (primary in 2019 and secondary in 2020) and have resources on Sustainable Learning’s website.
All our resources are now available in this handy Educator Pack! Please download and share widely. If you would like a high resolution copy then get in touch.
Find out more:Educator
We used the power of film to convey the lived experience of vulnerable communities and to showcase how fun sustainable modes of transport can be! 1,000s of people viewed our YouTube videos and the producer of “Anemmu in bici a Zena” – a Ligurian film about cycling, even won an award!
Check out our YouTube page for more information!
Video’s aren’t the only way to capture marginalised voices. Read our Community Activator pack to find out what other approaches you can take, or click the link below!Community Activator
Each city and region attended or hosted events. Talks were given in auditoriums, on the streets and at festivals. Read page 10 of the Community Activator Pack below to find out the pros and cons of different event approaches, and page 10 for a handy events guide. Our blog has some great summaries about specific events – check it out!
Air quality management app
Citizens want access to health and environmental data and apps like ours – GreenAnt – help facilitate this access.
GreenAnt is a free app for mobiles (Apple and Android) alongside a web system that allows you to become a citizen scientist, through monitoring your own and others’ transport activities. Utilising GPS data, you simply let the app run in the background while you get around the city.
Collect data with friends, colleagues, or use as a tool to improve the health of your staff or fellow citizens. The more citizens there are collecting data, the richer the picture we can build about air quality in the city. By making visible the invisible, we can begin to make changes to how we travel.
Mobile decision-making game
ClairCity Skylines allows citizens to step inside the shoes of the Mayor and decide which policy measures you think will keep the city alive and thriving into the future. It is currently available for the six partner cities and regions involved in ClairCity but the concept can easily be adapted for other places. Explore the game if available in your language, or consider using our analogue version available in our Educator Pack (see link above) to get citizens to understand the tradeoffs that have to be made when taking decisions about the future. Choices will inform the ClairCity project about policy making research into air pollution. Get in touch if your city is interested in their own ClairCity Skyline. Available on iOS and Android.
Press the button… you know you want to!Tech Lover
Social media formed a big part of the ClairCity project. We had our main Twitter and Facebook page, and many of our partners also had pages – in Liguria they also had Instagram. On our main sites, we had over 1,350 followers on Twitter, and 401 on the Facebook. During the course of the project this resulted in over 770,000 social media impressions.
We used these platforms to share news, our findings and resources among community groups, cities and regions. Some of our most successful posts were for our infographics (linked below) and the findings from our research. You can read more about the findings in our reports section.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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/
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.