Project Preparation

IMC4T – Innovative monitoring of CO2 for transport

Using mobile data to monitor transport emissions on a citywide level

Effectively monitoring traffic and air pollution in cities

About 19% of global energy use, and 23% of energy & related carbon dioxide emissions, are associated with transportation. Furthermore, it is projected that transport & related GHG emissions will rise by nearly 50% by 2030 and more than 80% by 2050. In this context cities are struggling to estimate GHG emissions and air pollution from transport occurring in their jurisdiction.

But measuring CO2 levels in cities today remains a laborious, expensive and largely inaccurate task. Situational snapshots of the traffic grid, with certain elements compiled manually, are often used to support long-term policy decisions.

In Nuremberg, Germany, partners in the IMC4T project are working on a better solution. The consortium is using mobile data to carry out continuous calculations on traffic flows and air quality, covering the entire metropolitan area of Nuremberg. This ensures a larger sample size and greater detail in terms of data. The project is led by South Pole and implemented jointly with Teralytics and Telefonica Germany.

A targeted approach to identifying emission hotspots

The complexity and high costs of MRV (Measurement, reporting and verification) for the transport sector represent significant barriers for short-term evaluations of interventions on public transport and the consideration of transport projects under innovative financing instruments. In 2016, this project has successfully developed a methodology to monitor CO2 emissions and NOX pollution levels using mobile phone data in real-time and has tested it in the City of Nuremberg.

The IMC4T approach uses mobile data to capture traffic flows throughout a city, calculating the pollution footprint and identifying potential hotspots for air pollutants.

The data is automatically generated when mobile phones connect to cell towers for calls, text messages or Internet access. Thanks to the continuous data generation, the final data sample is larger and more comprehensive compared with manual measurements. In addition, data collection takes significantly less time. The project is led by South Pole Group in partnership with Teralytics.

IMC4T’s pilot project with the city of Nuremberg provides important information for decision makers and help create tailor-made solutions to counter pollution hotspots.

Telefónica Germany has provided anonymized mobile data for 2015 and 2016. Using specially developed algorithms, Teralytics converts this data into motion and traffic flows before passing it on to South Pole Group, which calculates the total amount of different pollutants.

These calculations are compared to existing data regarding the air quality in Nuremberg. The ability to compare current data with information from 2015 will allow project partners to evaluate the effectiveness of measures taken to combat poor air quality.

Interested in IMC4T?

Cities in both developed and developing countries that are looking for more accurate measurements of their air quality can contact the IMC4T project team.

Contact details

Denis Jorisch, South Pole GroupConsultant, +41 43 501 35 50

Denis Jorisch is a Consultant at South Pole since early 2015 and working on topics at the intersection of finance, cities and climate change. Denis has been managing several Climate-KIC projects and he is furthermore actively engaged in assisting in the strategy development of the LoCaL programme until 2020. Prior to joining the South Pole Group, Denis was engaged in the Swiss Climate Foundation where he was responsible for the controlling, reporting and due diligence of energy efficiency and innovation projects in Switzerland. He holds a Master of Science in Atmospheric and Climate Sciences from ETH Zurich. Denis Jorisch is a Consultant at South Pole Group since early 2015 and has a background in atmospheric and climate science. He is currently focusing on new monitoring approaches in the transport sector on city level as well as energy efficiency projects in the building sector

Facts and figures

6.4 Gt CO2

Global transport emissions amount to 6.4 Gt CO2eq per year

80% increase

Global transport expected to increase 80% through 2050

43.4 million

Telefónica Germany has 43.4 million mobile phone customers across Germany


Where would we be without our partners