Environmental green zones for private cars

Transport Analysis, the Swedish Government Agency for Transport Policy Analysis, has commissioned IVL and the consultancy company Koucky and Partners to investigate how environmental zone systems for light motor vehicles might be implemented. The study shows that environmental zones are not only economically viable but may also speed up the reduction of emissions in cities – if the requirements are tough enough.

The study has been carried out within the framework of a larger project tasked with exploring ways in which various control means can be used to achieve transport policy objectives – including Sweden’s environmental quality objectives.. The study also investigates the possibility of giving municipalities the right to introduce environmental zones for light motor vehicles.

The primary target group for the investigation are experts at the Transport Analysis Government Agency and other related agencies, as well as government departments, municipalities and transport policy makers. Transport Analysis has been asked to support  the government with analysis and monitoring of the developments in the transport sector. Part of this  is to study and analyse instruments available to the transport sector that could be used in order to reach our environmental quality objectives.

Based on the Swedish Transport Agency’s earlier proposals for environmental zones, IVL and Koucky analyse in this study how it might be possible to expand environmental zones to include other vehicles categories or new requirements. The expected impact of these proposals on current environmental objectives and their feasibility is assessed. To this end, alternative policy instruments are also evaluated.

The report proposes different classes of requirements. One class to cover Euro 6 for petrol vehicles and Euro 6c – where current emissions already approach the limit – for diesel vehicles, as well as a second class for emission-free vehicles. The report does not endorse the introduction of environmental zones for light vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 / 6c standards and recommends retaining the current system for heavy vehicles. The report also suggests that municipalities be granted extended powers to restrict the use of studded tires.

– The proposed zero-emission zones give local authorities the power to reward electric and plug-in hybrid cars, trucks and buses. At the same time an environmental zone class for diesel cars is proposed, which implies that the new EU driving cycle emissions in actual traffic conditions should be applied (6c). This provides cities suffering from air quality problems with a tool that will enable them to address elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide, says Anders Roth, mobility expert at IVL.

The report is part of the Transport Analysis’ own data that provides a foundation for continued governmental environmental zone initiatives.