China collaboration tackles city pollution

Newcastle University, Imperial College London, and Southeast University will work together on the ‘Low Carbon Transitions of Fleet Operations in Metropolitan Sites’ project. In its course, Chinese experts will look at how transport systems in the UK deal with environmental and social problems in the hope to reduce Greenhouse emissions. The aim is to look at hybrid and low carbon transport.

The project, along with three others, is a part of the Low Carbon Innovations research programme. One key area of research focuses on the weekly food shop. Researchers will examine whether a move away from individuals driving to the supermarket towards encouraging supermarket deliveries is a more environmentally sustainable method of shopping.

As well as this, Newcastle will be vital in the examination of whether cities encouraging electric car use, with enough charging points in strategic locations, reduce carbon emissions and are feasible on a large scale. The investigation will use UK transport systems, which face similar problems to those of the Chinese just on a smaller-scale, to compare and understand how changes in car use and the use of low carbon vehicles can not only improve the climate and air quality but also reduce local traffic.

Berkeley Earth’s scientific director, Richard Muller, says: “Breathing Beijing’s air is the equivalent of smoking almost 40 cigarettes a day and calculates that air pollution causes 1.6m deaths a year in China.”

Phil Blythe, Professor of Intelligent Transport Systems at Newcastle University, said: “Lessons learned from the changes we are making to infrastructure and encouragements to adopt low carbon vehicles in cities like Newcastle where electric vehicle charging points have been put in, could help combat the problems of poor air quality and carbon emissions in huge conurbations.

“We have all seen the images of smog-covered cities and the evident health risks that brings need to be combatted but we need to recognise that with growing wealth, there is a growing desire to own a car so new strategies to deal with that are needed.  These problems are not unique to China and we have similar challenges in decarbonising transport and finding means to improve air quality in cities – as a partnership we can learn from best practice and local innovations, from each other.”

Professor Phillip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, agreed: “The aim of this UK-China research collaboration will be to reduce worldwide CO2 production and ensure energy security and affordability.”

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