Photo: © Shutterstock – Sopotnicki

Citizens support diesel bans to tackle air pollution

Two-thirds of EU citizens support the introduction of low-emission zones banning polluting cars from city centres, according to a recent survey.

Green transport group Transport & Environment (T&E) has analysed the evolution of low-emission zones (LEZ) for cars and vans in EU cities and analysed their effect on consumer behaviour. In a new briefing paper they conclude that there is a steadily growing number of cities that are introducing or tightening low-emission zones, and there are currently more than 260 low-emission zones in twelve EU countries, among which 250 cover passenger cars.

A survey undertaken by Ipsos for Transport & Environment shows among other things that the public support for LEZs is the highest in Hungary (77%), Italy (74%) and Great Britain (73%), and that more than half of those surveyed in other countries also supported the bans: Poland (66%), Spain (65%), Sweden (63%), Belgium (60%), France (60%) and Germany (57%).

Jens Müller at T&E said: “Low-emission zones are the fastest and most effective way to lower harmful levels of toxic air in our cities. People want to breathe clean air and demand action from politicians now.”

Three years after the diesel scandal the number of grossly polluting diesel cars and vans on EU roads is continuing to grow and has now reached 43 million. But the scandal – combined with the increasing number of LEZs – is turning off car buyers from choosing new diesel models and persuading them to shift to cleaner alternatives. The survey found 69 per cent of EU citizens said it is “not too likely” (31%) or “not at all likely” (38%) that the next car they buy or lease will be diesel, mainly because of concerns over air pollution in their cities. This is underlined by the slump in recent diesel car sales.

With the growing numbers of LEZs, older and more polluting diesel cars are increasingly being exported to countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Jens Müller added: “Exporting second-hand dirty diesels east to places where there are no bans yet is shifting, not solving Europe’s toxic air crisis. We need national regulators to require carmakers to clean up the emissions, as well as coordination of these measures at European level. All Europeans deserve to breathe cleaner air.”

On 6 November, T&E together with Eurocities and the European Public Health Alliance held the first ever European Diesel Summit to highlight solutions to clean up the dirty diesels that keep on driving on EU roads.

A declaration supported by the three organisations and presented to EU Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska urged member states and the EU to take five specific actions without delay:

  • Clean up all the existing dirty diesel vehicles across all member states, and support cleaner new vehicles;
  • Coordinate the recall and fixing of vehicles; prevent the sale and use of polluting cars that have not been fixed and exports from west to east;
  • Ensure all fixed vehicles undergo independent real-world testing to verify emissions performance;
  • Create an ‘EU Clean Air Fund’ and ensure that industry contributes significantly;
  • Strengthen EU level legislation on vehicle emissions and testing frameworks; incentivise the modal shift and invest in infrastructure at national level.

Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General at Eurocities said: “Three years on from the Dieselgate scandal, the number of polluting cars on our roads continues to rise, putting lives at risk. As cities we are committed to delivering clean air for our citizens. We will continue to implement low emission zones and restrict vehicles where necessary to promote public health and protect the environment. We also encourage alternatives, such as public transport, walking and cycling. But for a stronger impact, we need greater action at EU level to clean up dirty diesels and promote sustainable urban mobility.”

Christer Ågren

Source: T&E press releases, 31 October and 6 November 2018
T&E briefing “City bans are spreading in Europe”:



In this issue