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Citizen Led Air pollution Reduction in Cities

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - CLAiR-CITY (Citizen Led Air pollution Reduction in Cities)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2020-07-31

Air pollution is linked to one in eight premature deaths worldwide. People living in cities are particularly affected, with 90% of urban residents exposed to harmful levels of air pollutants. Two decades of established emissions inventories and modelling practices have led to attempts to reduce emissions predominantly through technical measures (i.e. cleaner fuels, cleaner vehicles). These measures tend to target the manifestations of problems (e.g. air pollution from transport) rather than the cause (e.g. having to take kids to school). Atmospheric pollution is largely a consequence of society’s use of energy for accomplishing social practices whether it is for home heating, cooking, mobility or industrial production. Solutions at a local level that incorporate both technological and societal innovation can therefore make a difference .
ClairCity (2016-2020) has worked with four cities and two regions on an air quality management approach that puts the citizen at the centre. The overall aim of ClairCity was to integrate and quantify citizens’ behaviour and activities to enrich city policymaking in the fields of air quality and carbon emissions reduction in Bristol (UK), Amsterdam (NL), Sosnowiec (PL), Ljubljana (SI), Aveiro (PT) and Liguria (IT).
The ClairCity process consists of three key phases which have been implemented across the six case studies following adaptation of the approach for each city/region.
The first phase involved the establishment of the baseline evidence in each city/region. The project created an innovative practice-activity data analysis approach that was integrated into the data modelling chain. This allowed the project to source apportion pollution by mode (cars, HGVs, taxi), motive (commuting, leisure, shopping) and demographics (age, gender, income). This approach created data that allowed a shift in the public debate towards recognising the role of people in the generation of air pollution and new evidence for local authorities to recalibrate their actions. The baseline policy reports and the review of social science in air quality management identified that high level strategies and civic society often champion the need for a more citizen-centred approach. The implementation of this is often lagging behind due to a lack of data, technical capabilities and a techno-centric approach to interventions.
Phase two involved citizen and stakeholder engagement to raise awareness of the challenges and work together to co-design solutions. The Citizen Delphi, Schools Activities, GreenAnts App and Mutual Learning Workshops gave citizens a sense of ownership and a platform to describe their personal future visions. We asked citizens how they currently behave, what barriers to they perceive to behaviour change and how they want their cities to look like in the future. Common concerns across case studies included reliability (public transport, renewable energy), affordability (trains, electric vehicles, solar energy), accessibility and flexibility (access to public transport) and road safety (related to cycling). The Skylines Game crowd-sourced the public perception of different policy options. It achieved >4,200 unique players and >11,000 unique plays across our case studies. Analysis illustrated that people prioritise environment and health outcomes over economy and personal satisfaction when choosing interventions, and that males choose more technological interventions than females. This evidence is useful for local authorities to ensure demographics, motives and behaviours are considered when policies are designed, calibrated, communicated and implemented.
Once consensus on future interventions for each case study city was achieved, the third phase quantified the citizen-led scenarios and created bespoke city policy packages. Common across all case studies was the realisation that there is no silver-bullet solution but citizens were demanding more ambitious interventions in terms of scale and timelines. These scenarios were quantified to determine their impact on carbon emissions, air pollutant emissions, concentrations and health. The approach showed that it can achieve 24-95%, 4-17% and 2-54% health risk benefits due to reduction in NO2, PM10 and PM2.5 respectively by 2025 depending on the ambition of the scenarios. These results were presented to the cities in bespoke ClairCity Policy Packages.
Using the quantification data (emissions, concentrations and socio-economic data), environmental justice challenges were explored in each case study. The approach illustrated where locations of high air pollution and low socio-economic status or demographic differences exist, providing recommendations for cities to take a people-centred approach to air quality management. To support other cities that may wish to replicate our approach, the project developed a good practice guidance to generate practice-activity data, a database for all cities with a population of >50,000 and a ‘Peoples Report’ which synthesised the social science observations. Finally, the project created a suite of infographics and visuals as advocacy packages that community groups can utilise for engagement and dissemination.
The ClairCity approach is pioneering in creating a citizen-focussed reformulation of the air quality debate, giving citizens and stakeholders a voice in their city’s future. The project method and outputs are ambitious and beyond state of the art as they are all rigorously calibrated to be accessible and utilised by a diversity of cities, communities and individuals. The project reach was substantial with >8300 direct engagement with citizens to date. This does not include dissemination through the ClairCity website and social media which we estimate to have had >800,000 impressions. By making the evidence relatable to people’s everyday practices, participants’ understanding improved and they were more likely to change their behaviour (74% of the participants stated that they intended to change their behaviour).
Across our case studies the results of the project are being used and integrated into policy. In Bristol, the contribution to pollution from leisure and shopping activities was shown to be greater than that from commuting. This is something that is potentially overlooked in policy making but which has significant implications on which interventions might reduce pollution levels most effectively. Also, the evidence was used in the Bristol Transport Strategy, One City Climate Plan and by the Bristol Advisory Committee on Climate Change. In Aveiro, ClairCity has contributed to raising awareness of citizens and policy makers in particular around the issue of mobility. Some municipalities in the region expressed the need to update or elaborate mobility plans, including soft mobility. In Sosnowiec, ClairCity activities have helped motivate residents to participate in a project aimed to install renewable energy sources in residential buildings and the final policy package has been translated to Polish for wider dissemination among policymakers. The WHO (Health Equity Status Report (2018)) and the World Bank (air quality management in the West Balkans) have utilised the ClairCity methodology and evidence. The bottom-up, innovative consultation methods employed by ClairCity had a wider reach than standard top-down approaches, which added weight to the pressure for improved public engagement in environmental decision making.
ClairCity engagement activities Bristol
Skylines game launch in Amsterdam as part of the national Science Week
ClairCity project overview and Work Packages
ClairCity Meeting in Amsterdam in November 2016
The six ClairCity case study cities and regions
ClairCity citizen engagement activities in Bristol
ClairCity inforgraphics - What is air pollution & solutions
The ClairCity logo
ClairCity process visual
Skylines game screenshots: choosing between policies and stamping them after 5 years
Skylines game tailored to the 6 ClairCity case studies
ClairCity experts engagement at the Mutual Learning Workshop in Amsterdam