The fight against air pollution

As indicated in the 2015 health report, not only has air pollution in Barcelona not been halted, it has actually increased, and the main cause is traffic. The municipal government has presented the Plan against Air Pollution, which outlines 58 measures to be applied between 2017 and 2020. The measures include setting up low emissions zones, restrictions on the most polluting vehicles, the promotion of public transport and traffic calming, superblocks and bike lanes.

Barcelona has few pollution episodes, with between zero and three episodes a year, but it has a structural pollution problem and that’s why measures are needed which, rather than addressing occasional situations, need to tackle the problem at short, medium and long-term levels. This need was outlined by the Deputy Mayor for Ecology, Urban Planning and Mobility, Janet Sanz.

The measures to be taken include setting up a low emissions zone between the city’s ring roads, which will be out of bounds to the most polluting vehicles as from 2020. As from winter 2017-2018, these vehicles will also be unable to access the zone if an episode of nitrogen dioxide pollution is declared. City Council also reserves the possibility of setting up additional protection zones.

These most restrictive measures come accompanied by others, such as facilitating public transport or Bicing subscriptions in exchange for taking polluting vehicles out of circulation. Public transport will be strengthened, including the L10 Sud metro service, the connection of the tram systems and the roll out of the bus network. The amount of bike lane kilometres will also be tripled and the green zone parking system extended, as well as linking tariffs to the level of pollution generated by each vehicle.

Sanz stressed the fact that these measures are to be applied in some cases together with the Àrea Metropolitana de Barcelona (AMB) and the Government of Catalonia. They are also meant to involve large infrastructures in the city such as the port and the airport, industry (via mobility plans), taxis (via new micro-platforms and the promotion of green fleets) and the public (via awareness campaigns).

The measures will be debated at the next full council session and have been developed within the context of the Workgroup on Air Pollution. The complete document outlining the measures is available via this link