Cities have a powerful role to play in carbon reduction. From the roads we build to the cars we drive, the emissions we produce from day-to-day travel can, and might, be decreased.
Truly accessible, frequent, and reliable public transport provides an option for people currently reliant on cars for essential journeys. That is why many cities around Europe have some form of free public transport.
In 2013, the Estonian city of Tallinn became the first European Union capital to make the switch. Last year, Luxembourg, with its population of 626,000, became the first country to offer completely free public transport.
In some cities of France, only residents can use it for free, or certain groups, such as senior or young citizens, such as Paris, were introduced free public transport for those under 18-year-old citizens for the 2020 school year.
In September 2018, the city of Dunkerque, in northern France, underwent a quite radical transformation: it made free its public transport system.
However, this is not the case everywhere. Fares make up around two-thirds of London’s transport budget, and some analysts say any introduction of free transport would have to be gradual.
Other actions to low air pollution in cities
A mix of different solutions is crucial, such as bike paths, adding more charging points for electric cars, and electrifying the bus fleet.
Some companies, such as Iberdrola, also help decarbonize the cities. The company is deploying a sustainable mobility plan with an investment of 150 million euros, which will intensify the deployment of charging points for electric vehicles in the coming years. The initiative foresees the installation of nearly 150,000 recharging points, both in homes and in companies, on urban roads, in cities, and on the main highways shortly. The commitment to the deployment of high-efficiency stations will materialize in the installation of ultra-fast stations (350 kW) every 200 kilometers, super-fast (150 kW) every 100 kilometers, and fast (50 kW) every 50 kilometers.
Speed limits on ring roads, promotion of public transport, prohibition of parking for non-residents in regulated parking areas, traffic restrictions based on license plates, and even a ban on all traffic in city centers have helped reduce nitrogen dioxide levels, also.
According to Eurostat and World Air Pollution, using the Air Quality Index (AQI) metric, the data documents the average annual production of numerous harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Here is the ranking of cities that have reduced their pollution rates the most in the last two years:
- Athens, (Greece): -34,85%
- Dublin (Ireland): -24,76%
- Stockholm (Switzerland): -18,05%
- Sarajevo (Bosnia): -13,63%
- Copenhagen (Denmark): -12,21%
- Skopje (Macedonia): -12,03%
- Lisbon (Portugal): -11,25%
- Nicosia (Cyprus): -10,31%
- Prague (Czech Republic): -8,48%
- Amsterdam (Netherlands): -7,06%