Urban Nitrogen Cycles: New Economy Thinking to Master the Challenges of Climate Change
Urban life is characterized by high population density. Small scale environmental issues easily affect a large number of people. Nitrogen compounds contribute to very different environmental issues, some of which happen at very small scales. Human activities responsible for the release of such compounds are especially notable in cities – with special forms of high-value agricultural production in close proximity of consumers, with combustion to supply the high energy demand, and with waste materials concentrated where the number of people is high. In the UNCNET project we work on systematically developing “urban nitrogen budgets” to understand the reasons, pathways and possible intervention points of the release of such compounds. Specifically, we address the technological and the behavioral options that enable such interventions – considering the reclamation of useful materials like nutrients as possible pathways to support the development of a circular economy. Nitrogen budgets and their impacts will be studied in four European and Chinese cities (Vienna, Shijiazhuang, Beijing and Zielona Gora), learning from the differences – these impacts not only relating to pollution but also addressing the needs of climate protection. An organized stakeholder process will allow to familiarize city authorities and other interested parties to contribute to and learn from the project’s experience.