In the course of the pandemic many European cities seized the opportunity to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable urban mobility. Moving with the times, planners in Berlin created a number of pop-up bike lanes. IASS researchers have examined the impact of these innovations during the initial phase of the pandemic. Their findings show that the bike lanes are widely accepted and have encouraged cycling uptake. In addition, cyclists’ exposure to nitrogen dioxide decreased with the creation of the bike lanes.
Methane emissions have been increasing rapidly in recent years, contributing significantly to global warming. Despite this, methane is not adequately treated within existing national and international governance frameworks. Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam highlight the urgent need for action in a new study.
People with respiratory diseases are more strongly affected by air pollution. They are at higher risk even in cities where limit values are only occasionally exceeded. In Berlin, a study found that the hospitalisation rate of patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increased with higher nitrogen dioxide concentrations.
Summer is the ozone season: The harmful gas forms at ground-level on hot, sunny days. In recent years, however, the rise in ozone levels over the summer months has not been as pronounced in Germany as it was previously. According to a new study, this is primarily due to a reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions. This trend can be observed across Germany’s southwestern regions in particular, while Berlin lags behind.
Berlin's Mobility Act aims to strengthen eco-mobility by improving conditions in the city for cyclists, pedestrian traffic, and public transport. How do changes in mobility infrastructure affect air quality? Researchers from the IASS have evaluated the impacts of two trials: a bicycle lane and a community street space. Their measurements show that air pollution decreased significantly during these traffic trials.
Climate change mitigation is about more than just CO2. So-called “short-lived climate-forcing pollutants” such as soot, methane, and tropospheric ozone all have harmful effects. Climate policy should be guided by a clearer understanding of their differentiated impacts.
A partial transition of German road transport to hydrogen energy is among the possibilities being discussed to help meet national climate targets. A team of researchers from the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) has examined the hypothetical transition to a hydrogen-powered transport sector through several scenarios. Their conclusion: A shift towards hydrogen-powered mobility could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and greatly improve air quality - in particular, heavy duty vehicles represent a low-hanging fruit for decarbonization of road transport.
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.
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.
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.
Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, health is receiving unprecedented public and political attention. Yet the fact that climate change also presents us with a health crisis deserves further recognition. A new IASS Policy Brief gives recommendations for integrating health and climate and achieving better outcomes in both arenas.
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.
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”.
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.
The cost advantage of diesel has caused the number of newly registered diesel cars to sky-rocket over the last twenty years. Scientists have now calculated the exact effects of this “diesel boom”: In a new study published in the journal “Atmospheric Environment” they show that the diesel boom in Europe has failed to benefit the climate.
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.
Diesel cars are the main source of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in urban areas, an increasingly pressing problem that some German cities are seeking to solve by imposing diesel bans. But that won’t be enough. A new IASS Policy Brief makes recommendations to policymakers on how to deal with diesel emissions.
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.
Recently, the team of the “Climate Change and Air Pollution” (ClimPol) project published an article in Environmental Research Letters detailing the results of a measurement campaign conducted along Kottbusser Damm in Berlin-Kreuzberg. In short, we found that the implementation of a protected pop-up bike-lane along the street reduced the amount of air pollution cyclists were exposed to by 22%. On its own this is a significant, but perhaps not unexpected result. However, to set these results in their proper context, first we need to rewind back to 2018.
The recent US election has inspired renewed optimism around the prospects of EU and US climate policy. The European Green Deal has positioned the EU at the forefront of climate mitigation, while President-elect Biden hopes to reclaim US leadership in the energy transition with his clean energy plan.
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.
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.
New research links air pollution to severe Covid-19 progression. This should prompt a re-evaluation of German commitments to safeguarding and improving air quality. Clean air deserves a more prominent place in Germany’s Strategy for Sustainable Development.
Given the fact that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its implications are dominating not only the news but the daily lives of nearly the whole globe, it is unsurprising that many have been thinking about the consequences of the coronavirus on climate action.
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.
As an health professional, I see that health needs to be viewed in a much broader perspective than the mere absence of disease, and that well-being is clearly connected to the healthy planet we inhabit. My research on air pollution and health aims to reveal the extent to which our well-being is related to our environment, and to show how important it is that we care for the latter.
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.
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.