These European cities are doing the most to fight air pollution

Some cities are introducing clean air zones
Some cities are introducing clean air zones Copyright AP Photo
By Ricardo FigueiraPhilip-Andrew Churm
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The cities were ranked on measures like EV charging points and bike schemes.


Copenhagen, Oslo and Paris have ranked the highest of 42 cities in Europe for fighting air pollution.

Amsterdam and Hamburg are fourth and fifth; while Granada, Dublin and Greater Manchester area are at the bottom of the list.

The data comes from the Clean Cities Campaign.  

Copenhagen and Oslo rank highest in the 42 country listEuronews

But the data does not mean these cities are the least polluted or the ones with the cleanest air.

Cities were ranked for their numbers of:

  • Shared bikes and scooters
  • Zero-emission buses
  • Shared electric cars
  • Charging points for EVs

'Not a full picture'

Barbara Stoll, the director of the campaign, says these indicators are important but much more needs to be done.

"We think that these are very important criteria, but this is not a full picture. 

"These are alternatives to other measures or complements to other measures that cities need to implement, such as low emission zones, such as limited traffic areas, such as potentially congestion charging, such as parking policies. 

"So there's a lot of other things that cities can do to clean up transport."

Reducing or even banning the circulation of diesel and petrol cars in city centres is another way of tackling the problem of poor air quality in cities.

London, for instance, is expanding its Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to all of its boroughs. 

This means any vehicle not meeting the ULEZ standards will have to pay a daily fee equivalent to about €14.50 to drive in the zone.

London will make it very expensive to drive diesel vehiclesEuronews

The move has angered some people and it is being challenged in court. But Simon Birkett, head of the 'Clean Air in London' pressure group insists it is not only the environment and the climate that will benefit from this expanded zone but also our own health.

"Low emission zones do lead to health benefits and in particular reductions in hospital admissions, heart attacks and strokes," he explains. "So there are very clear health prizes for us to win here if we continue down this route."

Birkett also believes the initiative should be enforced at in the EU. 

"Europe is currently revising its air quality directives. There was a very positive vote recently in the Environment Committee for the European Parliament saying that they wanted to align these new air quality laws to the latest World Health Organization air quality guidelines."

A 2015 study demonstrated that the introduction of low-emission zones did contribute to reducing the concentration of nitrogen dioxide, an extremely harmful gas. It also cut dangerous PM10 particles.

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