Thursday, June 30, 2011

Managing Traffic Congestion in Melbourne, Australia

Final Report, Making the Right Choices: Options for Managing Transport Congestion (568 page pdf, Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission, Sept. 14, 2006)

Also discussed here: Govt says 'no go' on city car tax (Herald Sun, Jun. 19. 2011)

And here: Managing Traffic Congestion with Rewards (Pollution Free Cities, Jun. 15, 2011)

Today's focus is on the comprehensive studies of the need for congestion pricing in Melbourne Australia and the difficulty in getting public support for that. Trends indicate that the already multi-billion dollar economic losses due to traffic congestion will only get worse without that demand management tool.

Key Quotes:

“The economic costs of congestion in Melbourne currently range from $1.3-2.6 billion per year, and are probably closer to the lower figure. These costs could double in fifteen years if further measures are not taken to address congestion”

“A comprehensive Melbourne road charging study would be useful to understand better the benefits of road use charging in a future environment where congestion may be increasing, and to permit a comparison of these benefits with the costs of this form of demand management”
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Improving Knowledge and Communication for Decision Making on Air Pollution and Health in Europe


Also discussed here: Aphekom (Improving Knowledge and Communication for Decision Making on Air Pollution and Health in Europe)

And here:

Traffic Air Pollution and Health Impacts in Urban Italy (Pollution Free Cities, May 20, 2011)

Today’s review article is a summary of the work of the Aphekom project in Europe over the last 3 years. It points to findings which show that living near busy roads (defined as those with typically more than 10,000 vehicles per day) present a significant health risk in terms of reduced life expectancy and health costs.

Key Quotes:

“on average, over 50% of the population in the 10 European cities studied lives within 150 metres of roads travelled by 10,000 or more vehicles per day and could thus be exposed to substantial levels of toxic pollutants”

“on average for all 10 cities studied, 15-30 per cent of exacerbations of asthma in children, acute worsening of COPD and acute CHD problems are attributable to air pollution”

“estimated an economic burden of more than Euro 300 million every year attributable to chronic diseases caused by living near heavy traffic…Our work suggests the total benefits of reducing traffic exposure for urban populations may have been largely underestimated until now"
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Urban Form and Greenhouse Gas Reductions

An Assessment of Urban Form and Pedestrian and Transit Improvements as an Integrated GHG Reduction Strategy (117 page pdf, Dr. Lawrence D. Frank, Michael J. Greenwald, Sarah Kavage, Andrew Devlin, Washington State Department of Transportation, Apr. 1, 2011)

Also discussed here: VMT Spreadsheet (Excel spreadsheet estimate of GHG emissions of simple land use projects or plans)

And here: How Can Large Cities Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions (Pollution Free Cities, Jun. 9, 2011)

Today’s article under review looks at transportation demand management in and around Seattle, Washington as a way of reducing greenhouse gases, given that the biggest contributer is cars and trucks (as in other cities with little industry, such as Ottawa, Canada). The report found that parking rates, sidewalk width and transit availability (in that order) had the closest link to the use of cars (as measured by VMT) and CO2 emissions.

Key Quotes:

“to test the effect of sidewalks on travel patterns and relate sidewalk availability with VMT and GHG emissions”

“[in the state of Washington] the transportation sector currently accounts for approximately 45% of total GHG emissions, with 73% of these emissions resulting from passenger cars and trucks fueled by gasoline and diesel. By 2020, statewide transportation emissions are anticipated to account for nearly 57% of total emissions..”

“At the local level, the City of Seattle Climate Protection Initiative aims to reduce citywide greenhouse gases by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050”

“Increasing sidewalk coverage from.. 30 percent of all streets to..70 percent of all streets was estimated to result in a 3.4 percent decrease in VMT and a 4.9 percent decrease in CO2”

“Parking cost had the strongest associations with both VMT and CO2. An increase in parking charges from approximately $0.28 per hour to $1.19 per hour ..resulted in a 11.5 percent decrease in VMT and a 9.9 percent decrease in CO2”

“ developed and tested a simple spreadsheet tool.. to estimate the potential reduction in CO2 and VMT due to urban form, sidewalk coverage, transit service and travel cost changes… where scenario analysis or impact assessment is appropriate – for example, comprehensive or neighborhood planning, transit-oriented development, or transit corridor planning”

“Statistical model results demonstrate that travel pricing and demand management strategies yield consistently large and significant influence on VMT and CO2 generation”
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Building Resilience in Cities Adapting to Climate Change

Financing the Resilient City- A demand driven approach to development, disaster risk reduction, and climate adaptation (48 page pdf, Jeb Brugmann, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, June 3, 2011)

Also discussed here: Financing the Resilient City, An ICLEI White Paper (4 page pdf, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, June 3, 2011)

A pollution-free city facing change must adapt. Today’s focus is on a report from Resilient Cities: World Congress on cities and adaptation to climate change sponsored by ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability. The report recommends a bottom-up approach, aimed at reducing systematic and catastrophic risks that sometimes may be taken on together, using local criteria to decide how to approach the challenges and how to finance them.

Key Quotes:

“a reframing of the adaptation challenge from its primary focus on risk reduction to a broader focus on increasing the performance of the area or system in which the investment is to take place.”

“ resilience as a coherent approach to future urban planning”

“urban areas..will bear up to 80 percent of the US$80-100 billion per year in climate change adaptation costs”

“Catastrophic risks arise from the poor design and location of the built environment including infrastructure, and include vulnerabilities and losses associated with flooding, violent winds, temperature extremes…”

“Systemic risks create sustained losses due to highly inefficient energy, water, food supply, and health care systems, arising from poor maintenance, old technology, and poor demand-side and lifecycle management”

“Measures to reduce poor systemic performance can be designed to reduce vulnerabilities to weather-related catastrophes, and vice versa”

“need to design infrastructure projects that are optimized according to a set of local criteria.”

“bottom-up work on GHG mitigation also provided opportunities to pilot a variety of new financial instruments, such as green bonds, revolving loan funds, consumer financing of household energy efficiency and renewable installations, tradable renewable energy certificates, feed-in tariffs, etc”
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Changing Consumer Behaviour to Reach Climate Change Goals

Behaviour Change in the UK Climate Debate: An Assessment of Responsibility, Agency and Political Dimensions (20 page pdf, Shane Fudge and Michael Peters, Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 789-808, Jun. 7, 2011)

The British government is approaching its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, with a focus on ways to bring about behaviour change, in addition to the more traditional reach for a technological fix. Today’s review article summarizes the background behind the policy and the results of polling.

Key Quotes:

“Government interventions on the demand side of consumption have increasingly involved attempts to obtain greater traction with the values, attitudes and beliefs of citizens in relation to climate change and also in terms of influencing consumer behaviour at an individual level. “

“44% of all emissions are by individual households, most of which comes from four transactions: electricity and gas in our homes, and car and air travel”

“The practical difficulties of reaching increasingly stringent UK targets for CO2 emission reductions have encouraged policy-makers to embrace and promote “bottom-up” solutions in order to address, for example, patterns of consumption and lifestyles such as those associated with travel, eating habits, leisure practices and patterns of living”

“a growing concern with environmental degradation can be traced to the significance of living in a “post-scarcity society”.. Most ecological issues, including global climate change, are not to do with scarcity of resources, but with the profligate use of them. Traffic congestion and pollution are good examples. “

“four dimensions of the diamond model:

Enable. - be as an information provider in order to encourage the individual consumer to make more informed choices in their purchasing habits.

Engage- awareness raising campaigns which are embedded at a local level are far more likely to resonate with individuals if led by local authorities

Encourage- Various congestion charge schemes had also been developed in order to encourage less “unnecessary” journeys by private car.

Exemplify- the UK Government set a longer-term target of an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050; punctuated by a series of interim targets by which political leaders will be accountable themselves.

“The issue of convenience was considered to be an important factor in participants‘ decisions with regard to both domestic energy use and purchase of appliances—almost always overriding potential environmental consequences”
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Replacing Nuclear Power with Solar Energy for Household Use

Nine Leading Companies and Fujisawa City to Collaborate on Sustainable Smart Town ProjectNine Leading Companies and Fujisawa City to Collaborate on Sustainable Smart Town Project (Panasonic News, May 26, 2011)

Also discussed here: Fujisawa Smart Town Planned for Japan to Be Most Advanced Eco City in the World (Andrew Michler, Inhabitat, May 27, 2011)

Today we look at a sustainable town being built in 2014 at Fujisawa, just west of Tokyo, that will maximize the use of photo-voltaic solar energy panels on every house. The houses are connected together with advanced communications and computer technology to provide, in effect, a single energy source that will then provide electric power for household use as well as emission-free transportation with electric vehicles.

Key Quotes:

“Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town' will Lead the World by Installing Solar Panels and Home-use Storage Batteries in Every Household”

“The project will be built on the site of an old Panasonic manufacturing plant, and with the intense attention given to Japan’s energy future after the Fukushima disaster the eco town couldn’t come at a more apropos time”

“1,000-home smart-town that will cover about 47 acres.. population of about 3,000 people”

“The entire town will act as a single energy system. Communication systems linked to each household and each home’s appliances will manage the energy needs to balance what is coming in with what the occupants require, drawing on the battery systems to help with load management”

“The town’s design will allow it to run off the main grid during disasters, providing extra layers of security to the infrastructure. The development is aimed to be replicable throughout the world, using integrated energy technologies at large scales.”

“The town is aiming to reduce CO2 by 70% from the 1990 baseline”
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seattle’s Road Pricing Pilot Project

Traffic Choices Study: Summary Report - A Global Positioning System Based Pricing Pilot Project: Evaluating Traveler Response to Variable Road Tolling Through a Sample of Volunteer Participants (40 page pdf, Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle, 2008)

Today’s focus is a summary report of a study completed 3 years ago aimed at assessing the feasibility of congestion and road pricing using GPS technology in a medium sized city which has endured considerable delays because of traffic congestion. The report concluded that large (“dramatic”) economic benefits could be realized by such a system but that public concerns need to be carefully considered – and a number of issues are listed.

Key Quotes:

“congestion in urban areas is getting worse. The standard approaches, such as building more roads, urban mass transit systems, even better land use planning, are not doing enough to solve the problem”

“they spend 40 percent more time traveling by automobile during peak periods than they would spend if congestion were not present. Estimates of the cost of congestion..range from between $1.5 billion to $2 billion annually”

“roadway pricing is based on charging a variable toll: one that is higher on congested routes at congested times, offering a lower cost option when demand is less.”

“Primary aims of the study were to:
  • accurately describe behavioral response to congestion-based tolling of roadways
  • better understand issues of policy related to implementation of road tolling
  • test integrated system of technical solutions to problem of tolling large network of roads without deploying substantial physical hardware on the roadside
  • familiarize the public and policy makers with road network tolling
  • generate price response data for use in other modeling and analysis
  • develop an understanding of technological applications and standards, and
  • better define a set of policy issues to be addressed in actual program design”
“Conclusions of Traffic Choices Study:
  1. Observed response of drivers to tolls suggests there is a dramatic opportunity to significantly reduce traffic congestion and raise revenues for investment….. A conservative analysis of the benefits of network tolling in the Puget Sound region indicates that the present value of net benefits could exceed $28 billion over a 30-year period.
  2. Not all aspects of a road network tolling system have been fully demonstrated yet. But the core technology for satellite-based (and whole road network) toll systems is mature and reliable…..The costs for GPS-based tolling systems are dominated by the initial investment in in-vehicle tolling equipment, and the communication of data during operations.
  3. A large-scale U.S. deployment of a GPS-based road tolling program will depend on proven systems, a viable business model, and public acceptance of underlying concepts.. Road users are particularly interested in the question of how revenues will be used”
“Heavy vehicles are tolled on major roads in a few European countries, and the Netherlands is making real progress toward a national kilometer charging program to be implemented for heavy vehicles in 2011 and all other vehicles by 2016”
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mapping Environmental Security

2010 Environmental Performance Index (Environmental Performance Index, Yale University)

Also discussed here: Eye on Environmental Security: Measuring Ecosystem Vitality and Public Health With the Environmental Performance Index (The New Security Beat, Jun. 6,2011)

Today’s focus is on a global mapping project begun at Yale 5 years ago to display 25 indicators of health and the environment for all the reporting countries of the world- the map below shows the relative CO2 emissions. Maps such as these can be very useful when developing national and international agreements and policies concerning future emissions or to achieve specific quality of life goals.

Key Quotes:

“The 2010 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. These indicators provide a gauge at a national government scale of how close countries are to established environmental policy goals.”

“The EPI was created in 2006 and is updated biannually. Data is drawn from 25 performance indicators that fall under 10 well-established policy categories, including the environmental burden of disease, the effects of water on human health, and agriculture”

“The interactive map also allows users to isolate performance indicators or policy categories in order to compare an individual country’s performance with global trends”

“Users can view visualizations of the compiled data via an interactive map and the data is also available in the form of rankings charts, individual country profiles, and country group comparisons”
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Monday, June 20, 2011

How Does Proximity to Heavy Traffic Affect Asthma Sufferers?

Use of a total traffic count metric to investigate the impact of roadways on asthma severity: a case-control study (20 page pdf, Angus G Cook, Annemarie JBM de Vos, Gavin Pereira, Andrew Jardine, Phil Weinstein, Environmental Health, Jun. 2, 2011)

Today’s review article from Australia found a statistical link between distance from heavy traffic for up to 150 m. away with asthma suffering, serious enough to require a visit to hospital emergency facilities.

Key Quotes:

“Two recent reviews have concluded that there was a consistent association between asthma and reduced lung function and living near highly trafficked roads”

“We examined the spatial relationship between emergency department contacts for asthma at three different buffer sizes: 50 metres, 100 metres and 150 metres.”

“Australia has one of the highest prevalence rates of asthma in the world ..asthma comprised 1.4% of the national total health expenditure”

“road density - a proxy measure for exposure – within the 50- and 100-metre buffers around homes was associated with reduced lung function and increased exhaled NO in children with asthma”

“Our study revealed a statistically significant 24% increase in the risk of experiencing multiple emergency contacts for asthma for every log-unit of traffic exposure.”
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Health Impacts of Landfills and Incinerators

A landfill in PolandImage via WikipediaHealth impact assessment of waste management facilities in three European countries (48 page pdf, , Francesco Forastiere, Chiara Badaloni, Kees de Hoogh, Martin Krayer von Kraus, Marco Martuzzi, Francesco Mitis, Lubica Palkovicova, Daniela Porta, Philipp Preiss, Andrea Ranzi, Carlo A Perucci, David Briggs, Environmental Health 2011, 10:53, June 2, 2011)

Today’s review article assessed the health impacts for people living close to a landfill or incinerator in three European countries, which are generally classified as cancer incidence and premature or malformed births. The main health threat for mortality comes from elevated levels of NO2 near incinerators.

Key Quotes:

“The current health impacts of landfilling and incineration can be characterized as moderate when compared to other sources of environmental pollution, e.g. traffic or industrial emissions, that have an impact on public health”

“A total of 49 (Italy), 2 (Slovakia), and 11 (England) incinerators were operating in 2001 while for landfills the figures were 619, 121 and 232, respectively..about 1,000,000, 16,000, and 1,200,000 subjects lived close to incinerators in Italy, Slovakia and England, respectively.. additional contribution to NO2 levels within a 3 km radius was 0.23, 0.15, and 0.14 ug/m3, respectively.”

“cancer incidence and adverse reproductive outcomes (congenital malformations and low birth weight) are the main health effects possibly related to incinerators and landfills, respectively”

“the additional contribution to the PM10 and NO2 background in proximity of incinerators estimated with air dispersion models is relatively small and roughly equivalent in the three countries”

“maximum impact of incinerators on the overall mortality of the resident cohort will be from exposure to NO2”

“For incinerators, there was a variety of emissions from the stacks of these plants, including particles and gases, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, heavy metals and dioxins for which a link with cancer can be easily Justified”

“Damage costs for incineration range from about 4 to 21 EUR tonne waste....For landfills the costs range from about 10 to 13 EUR tonne waste; it is dominated by greenhouse gas emissions because only a fraction of the CH4 can be captured”
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Does Building More Roads Cure or Cause More Congestion?

Traffic congestion, Rio de Janeiro(Leme), BrazilImage via WikipediaThe Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities (Forthcoming, Duranton, Gilles and Turner, Matthew A., American Economic Review, Feb. 2011)

Also quoted here: More Roads, More Traffic (WSJ Blogs-Ideas Market, May 27, 2011)
And here: Transit and Congestion, an Indirect Connection (DC Streets Blog, Oct. 2, 2009)

The article under review today confirms (with extensive evidence and analysis) what many of those who study traffic and road use already believed: that building roads does not relieve congestion, it adds to it. Further that adding transit does not help either. The only choice between road building, more transit or congestion pricing is the latter – which happens also to be the one that covers its own costs or even adds revenue back into road budgets.

Key Quotes:

“increased provision of interstate highways and major urban roads is unlikely to relieve congestion of these roads.”

“People drive more when there are more roads to drive on, commercial driving and trucking increases with the number of roads, and, to a lesser extent, people migrate to areas with lots of roads.”

“They didn’t find that transit reduces congestion..more buses and trains won’t reduce congestion..because regardless of how many drivers switch to transit, other drivers will fill the vacuum.”

“here are all these people out there waiting to take trips as soon as there’s space on the roads. So if somebody stays home, or if you add capacity to the road, there’s somebody there waiting to use that space”

“If you build it, you will sit in traffic on it.”

“These findings suggest that both road capacity expansions and extensions to public transit are not appropriate policies with which to combat traffic congestion. This leaves congestion pricing as the main candidate tool to curb traffic congestion”

“an increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion and that the current provision of roads exceeds the optimum given the absence of congestion pricing”

“tolling will create both the demand and the revenue for new transit capacity. The relationship between capacity and congestion is one we'd all do well to understand”
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Managing Traffic Congestion with Rewards

A choice model of participation in a reward-based congestion management scheme (27 page pdf, Eran Ben-Elia, Dick Ettema, International Choice Modelling Conference, 2009)

Also discussed here: Rewarding rush-hour avoidance: A study of commuters’ travel behavior (Abstract, Science Direct, Eran Ben-Eliaa and Dick Ettemab,Aug. 2011)

Reducing congestion by imposing tolls is rejected by many motorists. Today's review article looks at the other side of the coin- rewards instead of tolls- and found that, in Holland at least, that this approach might be more effective as a long term tool to reduce congestion. By studying what changes are more likely to be accepted, a strategy can be developed for specific locations and times. One interesting example from this study was that while drivers were unable or reluctant to delay their daily commute, some found that they could avoid congestion (and get a reward) by coming to work earlier.

Key Quotes:

“In general the Dutch people have a negative public opinion regarding congestion pricing and tolls despite the government’s wishes to implement pricing policy to tackle congestion and its related problems”

“providing users a reward for avoiding peak hour travel can achieve a similar behavioral change to that of pricing …. in general rewards produce overall better outcomes than punishments”

“Participants earned a daily reward (money or in-kind) if they avoided commuting by car during the morning rush-hour.. Rewards were effective in reducing the shares of rush-hour driving, and shifting drivers to off-peak times and other modes”

“it appears that the main motivations for participation are the reward itself and the social contribution to solving congestion problems. The main reasons not to participate stem mainly from household obligations and also refusal to consider behavior change”

“The results show that participation is linked to working time flexibility, constraints in the household and the workplace and especially to personal motivations. The most important motivator is the prospective earning of the reward”

“rewards create a long term learning effect unlike tolling which to some degree can be regarded as punishment with all its problematic drawbacks”
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Health Costs of Air Pollution from Traffic in U.S. Cities

The Public Health Costs of Traffic Congestion -A Health Risk Assessment (10 page pdf, Jonathan I. Levy, Jonathan J. Buonocore, & Katherine von Stackelberg, Harvard Center for Roisk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health, May 2011)

Also discussed here: Traffic emissions blamed in 2,200 deaths (USA Today, May 26, 2011)

And here: Traffic Pollution Responsible For 2,200 Deaths (redOrbit, May 27, 2011)

And here: Study: At Least 2,200 Premature Deaths from Traffic Congestion (Vox Civitatis, May 29, 2011)

And here: Illness Costs of Air Pollution (221 page pdf, Ontario Medical Association by DSS Management Consultants Inc., July 26, 2000)

The report reviewed today describes research on the impact of air pollution in 83 American cities, estimated as $31 B and 4,000 premature deaths and projects these impacts for 40 years into the future. It parallels the work done earlier by the Ontario Medical Association on Illness Costs of Air Pollution (or ICAP) which indicated about 5,940 premature deaths for Ontario in 2006, projected 20 years and $10 B/year in health costs.

Key Quotes:

traffic congestion-related PM2.5, NOx and SO2 emissions in these 83 cities caused approximately 4,000 premature deaths in the year 2000, with a monetized value of approximately $31 billion (in 2007 dollars)”

"Our estimates of the total public health cost of traffic congestion in the U.S. are likely conservative, in that they consider only the impacts in 83 urban areas and only the cost of related mortality and not the costs that could be associated with related morbidity — health care, insurance, accidents and other factors,"

“The number of premature deaths and the public health care costs associated with congestion have been declining slightly for a decade…This reduction results from the continual turnover ... to lower emission vehicles and the increased use of cleaner fuels,"

“across the 83 urban areas modeled, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is projected to increase more than 30% from 2000 to 2030 (an increase from 2.97 billion daily VMT to 3.94 billion daily VMT), closely paralleling projected population growth in the urban areas of 32%”

“They forecast traffic congestion will rise more than 30 percent over the period 2000 to 2030 in 18 urban areas: Raleigh, North Carolina (54 percent); Oxnard, California (47 percent); Las Vegas, Nevada (46 percent)…”
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Urban Health Impacts of Climate Change and Air Pollution in Southern Ontario and Southern Quebec

Possible Impacts of Climate Change on Economic Losses and Health Care Costs due to Heat- and Air Pollution-related Premature Mortality in South-central Canada Using Downscaled Future Climate Scenarios (Abstract, Qian Li, Chad S. Cheng, Guilong Li, Heather Auld, Congress, Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, Victoria, June 2011)

Also discussed here: Differential and Combined Impacts of Winter and Summer Weather and Air Pollution due to Global Warming on Human Mortality in South-central Canada (233 page pdf, Primary author: Chad Shouquan Cheng, Principal Investigator:Monica Campbell, Technical Report 6795-15-2001/4400011, Toronto Public Health, 2005)

The key health impact report in 2005 for four large Canadian cities near the Great Lakes is the focus of today’s review as the authors presented an update at the annual Congress of the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society in Victoria, BC. They point out a number of significantly higher health risks, including the projection that premature deaths from high pollution episodes and climate change-induced heat waves could increase three-fold by 2080. At the same time cold-related deaths would decrease by 60-70% by 2080.

Key Quotes:

“developed an automated synoptic weather typing approach to determine the differential and combined impacts of extreme temperatures and air pollution on human mortality for four selected cities (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor) in South-central Canada. Economic losses and health care costs due to premature mortality under the current and future climates were then estimated”

“Two independent approaches were used to assess climate change impacts on heat- and air pollution-related premature mortality for two-time windows (2040-59, 2070-89).”

“economic losses and health care costs due to heat-related mortality could possibly increase by factors of 2 and 3 for the 2050s and 2080s, respectively”

“The corresponding figures due to air pollution-related mortality could likely increase about 20–30% and 30–45% for the two future time slices..largely driven by increases in ozone-associated premature mortality”
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Road Pricing Demonstration Project in UK

Road Pricing Demonstrations Project - Key Learnings (25 page pdf, Department for Transport (DfT), March 2011)

Today’s focus is on a final report of a road pricing demonstration project in the UK which examined VMT Charging Systems (or Time-Distance-Place as termed there) from 34 companies in 10 countries. The main interest was in looking at inter-system compatability , user acceptance, and governance issues which included such aspects as trust, theft and display or mapping – at a time when technology has evolved to go far beyond the traditional toll station approach.

Key Quotes:

“The Demonstrations Project was a technical research project designed to establish how any system of road pricing by time, distance and place (TDP) could operate reliably, accurately and affordably, whilst safeguarding privacy”

“DfT is particularly interested in the potential for charging road users on the basis of the distance travelled, by time and place. Systems and technologies that could make time, distance, place-based charging possible are now becoming available on the market”

Some findngs:

  • Indications suggest that providing choice could increase public acceptability.
  • A mandatory TDP scheme can be expected to face more problems related to user acceptance than a voluntary one, as well as raising additional complications for service providers
  • Information presented to users should be in a form they can relate to, such as for a complete journey
  • There is a very clear trade-off between privacy and transparency.
  • Assurance: If TDP road pricing is developed in the future it is likely to require some ongoing independent assurance process to maintain the trust of all parties in the process.
  • Assurance to Scheme Owners - Self-Assurance is unlikely to be sufficiently robust on its own to provide the necessary
  • Mapping:Great care is needed when defining boundary and cordon crossing points on chargeable roads”
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Thursday, June 9, 2011

How Can Large Cities Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Total greenhouse gas emissions in 2000, includ...Image via WikipediaHow urban societies can adapt to resource shortage and climate change (22 page pdf, David Satterthwaite, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2011) 369, 1762–1783, May 2011)

Also discussed here: How urban societies can adapt to resource shortage and climate change (Urban Health Updates, May 23, 2011)

The focus today is on an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in cities and how they can be reduced while maintaining a high quality of life. One suggestion is to change the way emissions are counted from where they are produced to where or by whom they are consumed- the result is a higher focus on high well-to-do consumers and on what consuming changes are warranted. Also, large compact or dense cities are seen to have higher potential for GHG emission reduction than rural counterparts through more efficient means of transport.

Key Quotes:

“urbanization can be seen as one of the key drivers of high levels of resource use and waste generation that have serious ecological consequences locally (within and around urban centres), regionally (where resource and waste flows from urban centres shift to the wider region) and globally (for instance in regard to climate change and in the reduction in the ozone layer)”

“local, regional and global ecological consequences are not so much driven by urbanization as by the rapid increase in consumption levels and in the number of people with high-consumption lifestyles”

“Dense cities have great potential for limiting the use of motor vehicles (and the associated use of fossil fuels, the generation of air pollution and GHGs)..most large cities have problems with congestion and motor-vehicle-generated air pollution but these are problems that can be addressed.”

“Dense cities allow many more journeys to be made by walking or bicycling, and they make a greater use of public transport and a high-quality service more feasible”

“the percentage [of GHG emissions] generated by transport varies from 11 to 59 per cent..It is generally the higher density cities that have the lower proportions; the North American cities have among the highest levels of transport energy per person, the highest GHG emissions per person and the lowest densities”

“urban areas can combine high living standards with relatively low GHG emissions and lower resource demands …cities can allow high living standards to be combined with levels of GHG emissions that are much lower than those that are common in affluent cities today”

“For London, a shift from production- to consumption-based accounting for GHG emissions increases the average Londoner’s responsibility for GHG emissions from 6 to 12 tonnes of CO2e a year”
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tolling the Future

Toll interoperability could set pattern for national road pricing (Ed Regan, TollRoadNews, May 22, 2011)

Today's review article points out the need for standards and compatibility between tolling systems using advanced GPS/RFID technology, as they become implemented at urban centres and on the highway network connecting those centres.

Key Quotes:

“2011-2016 budgetary constraints and unwillingness to impose higher taxes will drive a continued development of new toll facilities - mostly in urban areas and using all-electronic toll collection

“Regan sees networks of toll managed lanes emerging in at least seven metro areas 2015-2020, and he names: Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, San Diego and Seattle

“After 2025 pricing becomes ubiquitous and what started as a national toll system becomes recognized as a national road pricing system”

“The percentage of American vehicles with toll accounts goes from about 15% now to 40% in 2025”
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How gas prices affect where you live

The Effect of Gasoline Prices on Household Location (32 pge pdf, Raven Molloy and Hui Shan, Federal Reserve Board, Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-36, Washington, D.C., June 2010)

Today’s focus is on an analysis of the impact of gas fuel costs on where home buyers chose to live. The report’s general conclusion was that higher gas prices had little effect on house prices or commuting choices in the short term but rather on the amount of new homes built in remote areas with longer commute times. Although the report was written during the global economic downturn that also reduced gas prices, a return to record high fuel prices in 2011 has stimulated a new look at this question which also points to the impact of other potential commuting costs such as with road tolls. Also, another question arises as to the impact of higher commuting costs not only on home location but on containing sprawl around cities- a question that remains to be answered.

Key Quotes:

“Rising gas prices increase the cost of driving to work, which should make some individuals choose to live closer to their place of work than they would have otherwise..[but] households spend [only] between 3 and 4 percent of total expenditures on gasoline in the typical year, and these expenditures include non-commuting travel”

“the costs of housing adjustment amount to roughly 15 percent of house value, which would be about $30,000 at the median house value in 2008. This cost is more than 10 times larger than average gasoline expenditures in 2008, which were $2,715”

“a 10 percent increase in gas prices leads to a 10 percent decrease in construction after 4 years in locations with a long average commute relative to locations closer to jobs, but to no significant change in house prices”

“we do not find that house prices in outlying locations to respond to gas price changes differently than house prices in more urban locations”

“housing supply in most areas is elastic enough for gas prices to affect the quantity of housing but not the price”

“Because housing is durable, the resulting change in construction has a long-lived impact on the spatial distribution of housing units”

“Reducing commuting distance by living closer to work is only one of the variety of ways in which households can adjust to a change in gas prices…. driving a more fuel-efficient car, carpooling, or taking public transportation, should reduce the effect of gas prices on households’ location choice”
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Monday, June 6, 2011

Nitrogen dioxide, a large contributor to the p...Image via WikipediaShort Term Effects of Nitrogen Dioxide on Mortality and Susceptibility Factors in Ten Italian Cities: the EpiAir Study (33 page pdf, Monica Chiusolo, Ennio Cadum, Massimo Stafoggia, Claudia Galassi, Giovanna Berti, Annunziata Faustini, Luigi Bisanti, Maria Angela Vigotti, Maria Patrizia Dessì, Achille Cernigliaro, Sandra Mallone, Barbara Pacelli, Sante Minerba, Lorenzo Simonato and Francesco Forastiere on behalf of the EpiAir collaborative Group, Environmental Health Perspectives, May 17, 2011)

Today’s review article assessed the relationship between NO2 and deaths in 10 Italian cities. A significant link was found with a time lag of under 5 days, and this was independent of ozone and particulate matter which are known to also be a cause of mortality.

Key Quotes:

“Several epidemiological studies have indicated that NO2 may be a more relevant health based exposure indicator than particulate matter ..Based on these observations, the US EPA has recently proposed to strengthen the nitrogen dioxide air quality standard that protects public health”

“We collected mortality data for 10 Italian cities (Bologna, Cagliari, Florence, Mestre-Venice, Milan, Palermo, Pisa, Rome, Taranto and Turin) accounting for about 12% of the total Italian population ..We selected 276,205 subjects aged 35 years or more”

“Overall, associations were strongest for exposures lagged 0-5 days, and stronger in the warm than in the cold season. Associations with NO2 appeared to be independent of PM10 and independent of ozone exposure during the warm season”

“this study confirms a clear association between short term exposure to NO2 and natural mortality and supports increased susceptibility among people suffering from chronic cardiovascular conditions and diabetes”
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