The ICARUS project’s main objective was to develop integrated tools and strategies for urban impact assessment in support of air quality and climate change governance in EU Member States leading to the design and implementation of appropriate abatement strategies to improve the air quality and reduce the carbon footprint in European cities. The project developed detailed policies and measures for air pollution and climate control for the short and medium term (until ca. 2030). For the long term perspective (2050 and beyond) ICARUS developed visions of green cities and explored pathways on how to start realizing these visions.

A multi-objective optimization methodology was devised encompassing high dimensional data fusion and refined tools for environmental and health impact assessment. Integration of complex systems dynamics that incorporate the interactions between activity sectors and the respective behavioral changes under conditions of environmental and socioeconomic change (through agent-based modelling) were a key component of the methodology. Health impact assessment incorporated internal dosimetry methodologies that took into account source specific characteristics of the emitted pollutants, such as the different PM size distribution and active surface of PM emitted from different sources.

Policies analyzed include urban policies as well as regional/EU wide policies, as long as the latter have a considerable effect on air pollution in cities (e.g. formation of SIA-secondary inorganic aerosol). The measures analysed included technical (i.e. measures that change emission factors such as use of filters, change of technical process with same output) and non-technical measures that change behaviour/decisions, e.g. use of a bicycle instead of a private car or reduction of room temperature.

The results of the policy analyses allowed us to determine the most sustainable GHG mitigation and air quality (AQ) improvement strategies. The latter were proposed to the authorities competent for atmospheric pollution and climate protection management and to the main industrial end-users as guidance for decision-making that would lead towards maximizing the net public health and wellbeing benefits while taking into consideration the costs associated with air pollution and climate change in the EU.

Project results were used to carry out integrated assessment of policy options answering the questions:

  • What are the most effective and efficient policies for reducing both air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in the short to medium term? What is the maximum potential for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions taking into account the climatic, socio-economic and cultural specificities of different European cities and regions?
  • Cost effectiveness: which bundle of policies will lead to the simultaneous fulfilment of pollution control limits and targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases with the least cost possible (where costs considered may include both financial and social costs)?
  • Cost benefit analysis: which bundle of policies would maximise welfare for society?
  • What would be long-term visions for a green sustainable city? Which decisions should we take now so that in the next decade we could be on a pathway to reach these visions?
  • Which approaches work better in conducing citizens towards environment-friendly behaviour?

ICARUS delivered a Decision Support System (DSS), a web-based, flexible and interactive platform aimed at assisting stakeholders in the selection, application and evaluation of the available datasets and tools for urban impact assessment in support of air quality and climate change governance at different spatial and temporal scales and taking into account the specific regulatory context.

To raise citizen awareness regarding the impacts of their activities on air pollution and climate forcing and increase societal acceptance of emission reduction policies, a web- and smartphone/tablet-based tool was developed to inform citizens in participating cities about how their life style affects their carbon footprint and the health impacts of their actions/consumer choices. They can now explore individually how downstream impacts change from commensurate change in their behaviour/activities or monitor the overall social responsibility in their area/neighbourhood and how it affects their quality of life.

Through the development of integrated tools and strategies for urban impact assessment in support of AQ and climate change governance and the direct involvement of citizens ICARUS aimed at the improvement of life quality and public health, as well as environmental risk reduction. It proposed an innovative system to assess and monitor AQ and adverse health effects of exposure to poor AQ in an integrated, cost-effective and dependable way, using to the maximum current and near-future capabilities of the environmental monitoring and telematics infrastructure. The proposed integrated system deployment and application in several cities across Europe is expected to have a positive impact on local society and the economy contributing to lower the health costs associated to environmental burden.

Conceptual model of ICRAUS methodological approach