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Old cars driven off the road as Europe’s clean air zones nearly double | Pollution

The number of clean air zones across Europe has increased by 40% since 2019, eliminating older and more polluting vehicles new research based on EU data.

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) have now been introduced in 320 European metropolitan regions and by 2025 that number is expected to increase by more than half, to 507.

The top 10 most popular tourist cities in Europe are now restricting the use of petrol and diesel, and stricter rules are expected within three years in existing LEZs, including London, Paris, Brussels and Berlin.

Oliver Lord, the UK’s head of the Clean Cities campaign, who conducted the survey, said the new analysis showed that cities embracing LEZs, such as Bristol, Birmingham and London, are on the right side of history.

“Clean air zone is one of the most effective ways to tackle toxic air in our cities,” he said. “We should applaud city leaders who are making tough decisions to create clean air zones so we can transform the air we breathe and phase out polluting cars.”

Air pollution is a “public health emergencyresponsible for more than 300,000 premature deaths per year in the EU, according to the World Health Organisation.

Polluted air would shorten life expectancy worldwide by an average of nearly two years, making it the greatest environmental threat to human health.

But clean air zones have proven to be an effective countermeasure. In Madrid, a 32% fall in NO2 concentrations were observed after the introduction of a LEZ in 2018.

In the UK, a public consultation The plan launched by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to expand the city’s ultra-low-emission zone (Ulez) to the entire capital next year is expected to be completed by the end of July.

Jemima Hartshorn, the founder of Mums for Lungs, told the Guardian: “We have just seen how effective the London Ulez has been in reducing air pollution. There is a 20% drop in NO2 since the zone was expanded. It’s great to hear that a growing number of other European cities are also taking air quality seriously.”

Italy tops the European clean air list, with 172 declared clean air zones, compared to 78 in Germany, 17 in the UK, 14 in the Netherlands and 8 in France.

Few LEZs have been set up in Central and Eastern Europe, but Poland and Bulgaria are expected to open new zones in the coming months.

The new study argues that now is the time to step up action, moving to zero-emission zones (ZEZs) ahead of a planned phase-out of new fossil fuel vehicles in the EU by 2035 and the UK by 2030.

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By 2030, up to 35 ZEZs are planned in Europe, of which 26 are exclusively for vans in the Netherlands. For the same year, smaller pollution-free zones are planned in parts of Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​Berlin, Heidelberg, Milan, Oslo, Rome, Rotterdam, Warsaw, Birmingham, Liverpool and Greater Manchester.

Two small-scale projects are already underway in Oxford and parts of central London.