Cities ‘taking the lead’ on air quality policy

Anti-pollution measures from cities including Barcelona, Milan, Copenhagen and Los Angeles feature in an air quality briefing published this week by the urban policy think tank Centre for Cities this week.

The policy paper, titled ‘How Can UK Cities Clean-up the Air We Breathe’, looks at steps that city authorities in the UK can take to address air pollution in response to a ‘continued rise of emissions and illegal levels of pollution in many places,’ according to the think tank.

Measures implemented in Barcelona are among the initiatives highlighted in the policy paper from Centre for Cities

Adeline Bailly, researcher and lead author of the paper, said: “Cities are primarily affected by air pollution and policy makers have come under increasing pressure to find solutions to reduce emissions. In response to the issue, the government’s plan to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide emissions gives responsibility to local authorities to clean up their air.

“Ultimately, local policies have to change behaviours. There are a variety of approaches and mechanisms cities can use to deliver air quality improvement. These include reducing emissions by promoting public transport, cycling and walking, as well as accelerating the take up of cleaner vehicles.”


Initiatives highlighted in the paper include the Crit’Air vehicle emissions sticker campaign taking place in Paris and other cities in France which sees cars and vans categorised by their emissions performance, with certain vehicles prohibited from entering parts of the cities on certain days.

New York’s anti-idling laws — which include potential fines of up to $2,000 for persistent idlers also features in the round-up, alongside measures in Freiburg, Germany, to reduce car ownership by improving public transport and restricting parking.

Elsewhere, work in Barcelona to reduce emissions by changing traffic flow through an urban mobility plan is also highlighted.

The policy paper also summarises proposals put forward by UK cities to address air pollution, including Leeds’ proposed Clean Air Zone, Sheffield’s Clean Air Strategy and efforts by Southampton city council to encourage the use of cleaner taxis.

Ms Bailey added: “Around the world and in the UK, by introducing anti-idling initiatives, changing the flow of traffic and investing in cycling infrastructure, cities are already showing leadership to tackle air pollution. This briefing presents the geography of air quality in the UK and introduces examples of cities’ good practice to help UK cities better understand what they can do to improve air quality locally.”

Related Links
Centre for Cities: How can UK cities clean up the air we breathe?


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