Sustainable transportation and health effects

The unique stock of vehicles in Cyprus merits research into the environmental and human health effects of road traffic sector emissions. In 2020, about 7 out of 10 passenger vehicles were gasoline powered, with an increasing trend in diesel cars, whilst petrol is otherwise unpopular in other European countries. About 50% of vehicle registrations during the same year were imported as second hand (used) predominantly from Japan and the UK. In addition, Cyprus has a high number of cars ownership per household reaching 645 cars per 1,000 inhabitants after it registered a 19% growth in passenger cars between 2015 and 2020. According to Eurostat, about 2 out of 3 passenger vehicles are at least 10 years old lending the island the title of having the one of the EU’s oldest vehicle fleets. The combination of the preceding factors drives the release of harmful pollutants.

Advances in emissions regulations mandated by the Euro 7 standards are more stringent on combustion-engine vehicles. Lower exhaust gas concentration limits are credited with the highest reduction of particulate matter (PM2.5), an aerosol particularly responsible for respiratory and cardiovascular health implications, as well as on nitrogen oxides (NOx). The impact of emissions mitigation measures which can be monitored during a vehicle’s lifetime are more important especially for Cyprus which boasts an aging vehicle fleet. In this project analytical and emission modelling methods will be used to investigate the amount of emissions released from a changing vehicle stock.

More specifically, the research aims to assess the effectiveness of current and future traffic emission reduction regulations and propose more appropriate mitigation policies in view of the EU climate and air-quality targets. Some of the parameters which will be considered during the investigation comprise Cyprus’ relatively short daily driving distances (mileage), the composition of the vehicle fleet, the role of second-hand cars, climatic conditions and vehicle driving habits. Various scenarios will consider a larger share of hybrid, electric and cleaner vehicle technologies. Air quality assessments which will be obtained from the COPERT emissions methodology which will look into NOx, CO (Fig. 1), CO2, CH4, elemental carbon, black carbon, PM, NH3, N2O and volatile organic compounds. Analytical methods will be utilised to calculate the concentration of emissions from the number of vehicles crossing 6 traffic arteries in Nicosia. Among else, we will gauge the impact of the urban landscape as well as the effect of green spaces on airborne emissions.

Fig. 1. Carbon monoxide emissions, for 2020, for Cyprus as obtained from the COPERT methodology.

Research team: Ms Michelle Duri, Dr Evangelos Demetriou, Dr Constantinos Hadjistassou

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