Copenhagen and Oslo top list of cities fighting air pollution

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 list has been released by the Clean Cities Campaign.  But, the data does not mean these cities are the least polluted, or the ones with the freshest air. 

Figures were compiled on the following:

  • Shared bikes and scooters 
  • zero-emission buses
  • shared electric cars 
  • charging equipment for electric vehicles.

Copenhagen and Oslo rank highest in the 42 country list

Barbara Stoll, the director of the campaign, says these indicators are important, but they do not provide the full picture.

“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 cars and old petrol vehicles in city centres is another way of tackling the problem of poor air quality in cities.

From August, London 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 there.

London will make it very expensive to drive diesel vehicles

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 an EU level. 

“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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