Headline: Air quality

Air Quality and Climate

More Ambitious Legislation Needed to Protect People, Crops, and Ecosystems

Whether the air that we breathe will be cleaner or dirtier in the future will largely be determined by two key factors: pollutant emissions and climate change. In a new publication, the authors analyze projections of future air quality and compare their various effects on human health, crops, and ecosystems. The research reveals that emissions reductions beyond those required under current legislation will be needed if we wish to see significant improvements. Policymakers should also seek to couple air pollution control and climate policy more effectively.

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Report

Air Quality and Ozone: the Current State of Play

The threat posed by ozone to human health and vegetation continues to be a matter of concern for German politicians, scientists, and the general public. Participants in a workshop organised by the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the German Environment Agency (UBA) analysed the current state of knowledge on ozone and identified areas where more action is required. The resulting publication contains a catalogue of recommendations for tackling the ozone problem.

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Car-free Friedrichstraße: IASS Evaluates Impacts on Air Quality

The Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection in Berlin will close Friedrichstrasse to vehicles for five months. A section of this major thoroughfare is to be transformed into a car-free zone from 29 August. Experts anticipate increases in pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Researchers will study how the closure affects air quality, with scientists from the IASS helping to measure and evaluate its impact on air pollution levels.

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Air quality

IASS Presents First Emissions Inventory for Nepal

Data on emission amounts and sources have an important role to play in shaping policy on climate protection and air quality. Now, a team of researchers under the guidance of IASS Scientific Director Mark Lawrence has presented the first high-resolution inventory to record emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants in Nepal over an extended period of time. The researchers plan to use the data to develop further air quality strategies in Nepal.

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IASS Policy Brief

Climate Protection and Clean Air: An Integrated Approach

From 23 – 25 September 2019, heads of government from around the world will convene at the United Nations’ General Assembly to discuss efforts to advance climate action and global sustainable development. The summit aims to boost national ambitions to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and will review the implementation of measures relating to the Sustainable Development Goals. The relationship between air pollution and climate change plays an important role in this context, and is the subject of a new IASS Policy Brief titled “A Practical Approach to Integrating Climate and Air Quality Policy”.

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New study on air pollution

"Bad Atmosphere" on City Cycle Lanes

The cause of millions of premature deaths annually, air pollution is a global challenge. It affects both developing and developed countries, with cities, in particular, struggling to meet air quality standards. A new study by a team of researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) investigates air pollutant concentrations in urban areas and the factors that affect air quality. The study includes a number of recommendations that will interest urban planners and citizens alike.

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Reorganisation of traffic on Potsdam’s Zeppelinstraße garners more criticism than praise

Due to excessive air pollution, in July 2017 the City of Potsdam reallocated space on the very busy Zeppelinstraße in an attempt to reduce car traffic and encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport. While they welcome the fact that this measure has made cycling safer, participants in an online survey conducted by the IASS are critical of other effects, claiming that life has become more difficult for commuters, and air and noise pollution have only been reduced in a small area – to the detriment of side streets.

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CITY CYCLING for a Better Climate and Clean Air: IASS Researchers Focus on Sustainable Mobility

The CITY CYCLING campaign encourages local politicians and citizens to choose cycling as a climate-friendly means of transportation between 1 May and 30 September. Researchers from the IASS are conducting a survey to learn more about participants’ interactions with cycling infrastructure and what it would take to encourage them to cycle more frequently. These findings will be used subsequently in the development of policy recommendations.

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Blog Posts

Coronavirus

Where is the policy response to air pollution deaths?

The current death toll from Covid-19 is just over 800,000 people worldwide. This is likely to be a conservative estimate. To provide some perspective, in 2017, around 56 million people died, with the largest cause of death being cardiovascular diseases, which accounted for about 32% of deaths. 4.2 million people die every year as a result of exposure to outdoor air pollution. If we consider the rankings of risk factors for death, air pollution is number 4 on the list. 4!! Why am I suddenly bringing air pollution into this? Initial research has shown that there is a link between air pollution and Covid-19 cases.

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Cycling through times of change

In Berlin, one unique change that has continued to develop over the past few months is the installation of “Pop-up” bike lanes on busy streets around the city. Citing the pandemic, city officials have been fast-tracking plans for new, protected bike lanes in order to allow citizens to travel safely by bike and avoid overcrowding in public transport. A recent IASS Study shows that these new bike lanes are strongly supported by people who identify primarily as cyclists, pedestrians, or users of public transport, but are disliked by those who identify as car drivers. While these results are unsurprising, they capture Berlin’s quite recent citizen-led shift in transport policy, ultimately culminating in the recent Mobility Law of 2018. That does not mean, however, that these new bike lanes are without criticism.

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Lung doctors for more pollution? – A Q&A on the debate about limit values

Last week in Germany, retired pulmonary physician Dieter Köhler made waves by publishing a statement, signed by over one hundred other fellow lung doctors, calling into question the science behind air quality standards and suggesting that current EU-wide limits for nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter are unnecessarily strict. Not coincidentally, this comes at a time when diesel driving bans are being imposed in many German cities because of their inability to meet the EU-wide limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), for which diesel cars are the main source. This has sparked debate on many levels, from the journalistic to the political. In this blog post we specifically address the topic of air quality limit values based on our expertise in the fields of air quality and public health.

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Governing the Climate in Cities

Urban areas account for more than 70% of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. If the top 50 emitting cities were a single country, its emissions would rank third globally, behind China and the United States. In addition to playing a major role in rising atmospheric CO2 and global warming, cities are also heat islands. A heat island is formed on the one hand from waste heat emitted from cars, poorly insulated buildings and industrial plants, and on the other from heat stored and reradiated from the artificial surfaces that cover our cities.

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Choosing the Right Trees for Urban Greening

Many cities are currently creating more green spaces and planting trees. The growing momentum to increase the amount of green space in urban areas, seen, for example, in various ‘Million Tree’ campaigns, brings many benefits to urbanites. A reduction in summer temperatures, additional recreational opportunities, and storm-water control are among the motivations behind such programmes.

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Research Groups

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