Rome, Moscow and London raked worst of 13 European capitals when considering factors that contribute to air pollution, according to a report released Tuesday.
Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Oslo came out on top overall in a review of public transport, road safety, air quality, mobility management — how well a city facilitates the use of public transport for its citizens via, for example, infrastructure — and active mobility — how much inhabitants walk or cycle.
Barbara Stoll, clean-air campaigner from Greenpeace, who commissioned the study from German environmental consultants the Wuppertal Institute, told Euronews: "We wanted to showcase good examples and spark a sense of competition with the report."
The study came as the European Union on Thursday referred six member states to the EU's highest Court of Justice for exposing their citizens to too much air pollution.
Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Romania, it said, failed to respect air quality limits and didn't take appropriate action in time.
Who are the sinners and saints of air pollution?
Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Oslo had good scores in a majority of categories.
All three performed outstandingly in terms of road safety and relatively well when considering air quality, mobility management and active mobility, but underperformed in public transport.
In Rome, Moscow and London, motorised transport is predominant and prioritised over people, according to Stoll. She considered these cities to be lenient towards car owners with such initiatives as liberal parking policies, which also contributed to their low score.
"Where there is integrated decision making about how to move away from motorised transport and transform spaces into people-centred areas, these are the cities that did well and where the quality of life is better," she added.
However, Stoll also emphasised that the devil is in the detail — Vienna, Paris and Budapest, for example, scored very well in terms of public transport, all three coming in at joint second after Zurich.
"We can also learn from some of the worst-ranking cities as well as the best-ranking ones," she said.
What changes could cities make?
The changes Greenpeace are calling for are threefold:
- Cities should strive to reduce emissions and air pollution.
- They should develop infrastructure to promote the quality of life for their inhabitants. They can do this via affordable public transport, powered by renewable energy and also by implementing car-free zones.
- They should "reinvigorate" city centres by offering access to public spaces via proposals like a single-ticketing system across transport networks.
"To create more livable, cleaner and safer cities, we think authorities should prioritise people over cars," said Stoll.