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Berlin leads the field for tackling air pollution

A group of environmental NGOs has published a ranking list of 17 European cities, based on what they have done to improve air quality. Berlin came top, closely followed by Copenhagen, Stockholm, Vienna and Zurich.

The ranking was motivated by a campaign to free European cities from soot and black carbon, but the ranking list covers a range of pollutants. Campaigners sent questionnaires to 20 cities – 14 were returned, but enough information was available to rank 17 cities.

Berlin came top because of its low-emissions zone launched in 2008, which includes a strategy to take people out of their cars and switch to public transport, cycling and walking. Copenhagen and Stockholm were praised for having the best economic incentives, such as congestion charges and parking management. The top five cities all achieved 80% scores or above, and were well ahead of the rest.

At the bottom, Milan and Rome were the only cities among the 17 to score less than 50% - Milan had 44% and Rome 38%. London, which introduced a congestion charge scheme in the mid-2000s, came 12th with 58%.

  • The Czech parliament has vetoed an attempt by the country’s president Vaclav Klaus to stop the Czech Republic introducing low-emissions zones. The law had been agreed at all levels of the Czech legislature, but was stopped by the president who said it would be anti-business and lead to corruption. But members of parliament voted earlier this month to allow authorities to create zones closed off to the most polluting vehicles.