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Journal Article


A survey on the perceived need and value of decision-support tools for joint mitigation of air pollution and climate change in cities

von Schneidemesser, E., Kutzner, R., Schmale, J. (2017): A survey on the perceived need and value of decision-support tools for joint mitigation of air pollution and climate change in cities. - Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 5:68.

(Publisher version), 4MB


von Schneidemesser ,  Erika
IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam;

Kutzner ,  Rebecca
IASS Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies Potsdam;

Decision-support tools are increasingly popular for informing policy decisions linked to environmental issues. For example, a number of decision-support tools on transport planning provide information on expected effects of different measures (actions, policies, or interventions) on air quality, often combined with information on noise pollution or mitigation costs. These tools range in complexity and scale of applicability, from city to international, and include one or several polluting sectors. However, evaluation of the need and utility of tools to support decisions on such linked issues is often lacking, especially for tools intended to support local authorities at the city scale. Here we assessed the need for and value of combining air pollution and climate change mitigation measures into one decision-support tool and the existing policy context in which such a tool might be used. We developed a prototype decision-support tool for evaluating measures for coordinated management of air quality and climate change; and administered a survey in which respondents used the prototype to answer questions about demand for such tools and requirements to make them useful. Additionally, the survey asked questions about participants’ awareness of linkages between air pollution and climate change that are crucial for considering synergies and trade-offs among mitigation measures. Participants showed a high understanding of the linkages between air pollution and climate change, especially recognizing that emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants come from the same source. Survey participants were: European, predominantly German; employed across a range of governmental, non-governmental and research organizations; and responsible for a diversity of issues, primarily involving climate change, air pollution or environment. Survey results showed a lack of awareness of decision-support tools and little implementation or regular use. However, respondents expressed a general need for such tools while also recognizing barriers to their implementation, such as limited legal support or lack of time, finances, or manpower. The main barrier identified through this study is the mismatch between detailed information needed from such tools to make them useful at the local implementation scale and the coarser scale information readily available for developing such tools. Significant research efforts at the local scale would be needed to populate decision-support tools with salient mitigation alternatives at the location of implementation. Although global- or regional-scale information can motivate local action towards sustainability, effective on-the-ground implementation of coordinated measures requires knowledge of local circumstances and impacts, calling for active engagement of the local research communities.