Expected impacts of MEGAPOLI

Wider impacts related to the FP7 Environment work programme

The project will contribute to the strategic goal of promoting sustainable management of the environment and its resources. It will do this by advancing our knowledge on the interactions between air quality, climate and human activities related to large urban centres and hotspots. Megacities, constitute major sources of anthropogenic air pollution and hence affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the world directly by the quality of air that they breathe and through complex interactions resulting in climate change. Research within the project will lead to improved modelling and assessment tools. In particular, MEGAPOLI will formulate a European methodology for integrated air quality and climate assessment over multiple scales (urban to global).

MEGAPOLI will place particular emphasis on the interactions between air quality and climate change impacts resulting from megacities on regional to global scales and potential mitigation options. It will further lead to an integrated methodology and corresponding tools to assess these impacts both in Europe but also elsewhere.

Scientific impacts

MEGAPOLI will lead to significant scientific innovations including:
(i) Integration of the interactions and processes affecting air quality and climate change on regional to global scales coupled with the capability of estimating the human, ecosystem and economic impact of air pollution resulting from megacities;
(ii) Development of an integrated European methodology and tools to assess the impacts within and from megacities on city to global scales;
(iii) Integration of ground-based, aircraft and satellite technologies with state-of-the-art modelling tools
(iv) Integrated approaches for addressing the feedbacks and interlinkages between climate change and regional air quality related to megacities
(v) Integration of knowledge and practical implementation of improved tools according to level of complexity to a range of megacities and hotspots
(vi) Improved current and future emission estimates for natural and anthropogenic sources of air pollutants;
(vii) Development of an integrated assessment methodology for supporting EU and global policy frameworks. This will be achieved through the assessment of mitigation options and the quantification of impacts from polluted air-masses on larger scale atmospheric dynamics.
(viii) Examination of the important feedbacks among air quality, climate and climate change.
(ix) A robust, global information dissemination gateway on air quality, climate change and mitigation and policy options for European stakeholders strengthening the European Research Area (ERA).

MEGAPOLI will significantly extend the current state-of-the-art in the assessment capabilities within Europe by developing and implementing reliable integrated tools on multiple scales and for multiple pollutants. These will be applied to assess directly the impact of the largest urban centres and hotspots in Europe and globally by employing highly advanced as well as simpler tools. The project will bring together current off-line approaches as well as new on-line methods enabling feedbacks to be quantified on multiple scales enabling mitigation options to be examined more effectively.

Policy orientated impacts

Air quality and climate change are influenced to a large extent by different anthropogenic activities such as energy production, industry, transport, waste disposal and household activities. These effects are especially pronounced in major urban centers. Improved knowledge on the importance of multiscale transport processes from outside Europe and its importance on air quality and influence on environmental quality is vital to assess the effectiveness of policy options on a European scale. Such knowledge is expected to be used in the revision of the thematic strategies on air pollution and on urban development. . The results are also designed to support ongoing work in an international context such as the UNECE convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution .

With current air quality legislation in the EU focusing mostly on the definition of ambient levels for specific pollutants in different defined spatial and temporal domains, one of the main questions for the proposed project will be to quantify the present and future contributions of megacities to these ambient levels under different scenarios. The Air Quality Framework Directive (Directive 96/62/EC) in particular is designed to provide a framework for setting limit values for a range of pollutants in specific Daughter Directives, for assessing their concentrations and for managing air quality to avoid and prevent any exceedances of these limit values.

All megacities have currently large difficulties in meeting the thresholds for PM10 and NO2 (from 2010). Thus there is a great interest for the cities in sharing experiences with mitigation and abatement measures and in finding out which options exist to come closer to meeting the air quality standards. Therefore, in the project we will provide guidance and disseminate information about the effectiveness of different abatement measures.

A key outcome of the project will be the support for European and global policy frameworks and strategies. This will be achieved by working together with other large, similar projects including EUCAARI and ACCENT. The project outcomes will be relevant to the following policies and initiatives:
  • UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
• Convention on Combating Desertification, International Strategy for Natural Disaster Reduction
• Kyoto and Montreal protocols
• World Summit on Sustainable Development, Global Earth Observation System of System initiative (GEOSS)
• Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
• European Climate Change Programme II
• Thematic strategies on air pollution, urban environment and sustainable management of resources
• Clean Air for Europe (CAFÉ)
• Environment and Health Action Plan (EHAP)
• Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP)

The scientific knowledge that will be generated from the project will be relevant to the EHAP strategy (e.g. pollutant characteristics and distributions) and health-related projects including INTARESE, HEIMSTA, ENVIRISK, CAIR4HEALTH and HENVINET.

In addition to being relevant to global environmental policies such as Kyoto and Göteborg 2001 and the future developments of the European Sustainable Development strategy, the project outcomes will provide the basic scientific underpinning for potential future changes in the European air quality directives. A new PM2.5 limit value has been proposed though the CAFÉ process to strengthen the current PM10 limit value (COM(2005) 446 final). Such important changes to limit values rely on a sound understanding of emissions of aerosols and precursors as well as atmospheric processes over a range of scales. MEGAPOLI will reduce uncertainties in emissions relevant to regional and global air quality and climate change (e.g. through improved emissions from WP1). It will improve the treatment of urban features (WP2) in models leading to improvements in the parameterisation of meteorological and transformation processes (WP2 and 4). Targeted measurements will be undertaken and will be used to evaluate the performance of models for implementation to megacities (WP7). Model improvements, including how megacities emissions can be up-scaled in regional and global models, will be conducted in WP5 and 6. These advances will be important both for climate change and air quality policy and regulation. MEGAPOLI will engage with policy and decision makers, for example through urban and regional authorities, CAFÉ, CLRTAP and ECCP, for example through the participation in the project board (WP9) and through implementation of integrated tools to case study cities. Such tools will help to understand the long term impacts of megacities on climate chance and of climate change on urban air quality. Hence other frameworks such as IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) and UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) will also benefit from the MEGAPOLI results.

Community and societal impacts

The EU strategy on sustainable development (SD) underpins all policies (COM(2001)264 final and COM(2005) 37 final). SD principles have implications for European air quality limit values, risk and exposure to climate induced hazards, urbanization and changes in demography and other social patterns that affect climate or are affected by it. MEGAPOLI will provide practical information (through improved assessment tools) on how European citizens will be affected by air pollution resulting from megacities. WP4 will lead to fine-scale air quality models for risk assessment, WP5 will produced improved regional and global air quality models and WP6 will consider models to predict the impact of climate as a result of emissions from megacities and large hotspots. Coupled with a global dissemination strategy the project will act as an information gateway for the public and other interested stakeholders including city authorities. WP8 will develop mitigation scenarios which will be tested with regional and global models. MEGAPOLI will also consider human and ecosystem impact assessment as part of WP8 as well as quantify the resulting economic damage. Consequently, through WP8, the project will support the Environment and Health Action Plan as well as the thematic strategy on air pollution and the thematic strategy on urban Environment. MEGAPOLI tools and knowledge (e.g. mitigation options) will support the wider European policy process in its objective to decouple economic growth and environmental degradation and to help promote sustainable production.

Coordination with other research and monitoring activities

Project partners are already engaged in several major European and international projects and networks and hence will mobilize a global-wide research community to support the aims of the project. In particular, interaction and information exchange will take place on scientific advances in modelling techniques, new air pollutant measurement techniques, expansion of datasets for megacities across the world, etc. The project will benefit from cooperation with EUSAAR which is an important infrastructure project of aerosol supersites in Europe and is closely linked to EMEP and WMO/GAW. Direct interaction with GEOSS, INSPIRE and EUCAARI will be undertaken through the corresponding WPs. These networks/projects, together with EARLINET and AERONET/PHOTON and targeted measurements in Paris, will be essential ground pillars of measurements to be used within MEGAPOLI. In addition there will be close links to GMES-related projects like GEMS and PROMOTE in which satellite retrievals play a large role. Partners also contribute significantly to the scientific research and co-operation under the LRTAP Convention, in particular under the EMEP programme (NILU is a host of an EMEP centre). On the national level project members will cooperate with various groups; for example, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) in the UK and programmes of the Nordic Society for Aerosol Research (NSAR).

European approach and international cooperation

A project such as MEGAPOLI demands a European approach coupled with global dialogue and cooperation. This is necessary as the problems of megacities are not constrained by national boundaries. The outflow of pollution from large urban centres and hotspots can travel thousands of kilometres and can remain in the atmosphere for long periods of time. It is only through international cooperation that impacts from megacities can be mitigated and appropriate policies developed. Similarly, international scientific cooperation is required to pool together expertise on modelling, technology, measurements, local information, coordination and logistical support and implementation of tools. Such a wider range of expertise and capacity cannot be met through national initiatives. It is also critical to work with global partners and city representatives to provide the direct access to information necessary to undertake local assessment of air quality and associated risks in a diverse but important set of cities the locations of which span most of the continents.

The consortium partners provide a wide European representation encouraging a dynamic flow of information and knowledge amongst the countries and organizations. As most of the largest megacities are outside the European Union MEGAPOLI has established direct links with local teams local in the non-EU (e.g. Cairo, Delhi, Mumbai, Shanghai, Santiago, Mexico City, Bangkok, Tokyo, New York, Moscow, Istanbul, etc.). Through the project, therefore, Europe will benefit from the global partnership established with international experts from USA, China, India, Chile, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Canada, Thailand and Egypt facilitating global cooperation on important questions regarding the role of megacities in determining regional and global air quality and climate. Cooperation with WMO (one of the core partners) will be pivotal with some of cities through the GAW/GURME programme.

FP7 EC MEGAPOLI, 2008-2011