The United Nations Environment Programme says making walking and cycling safer is vital for reducing pollution and climate-changing emissions. A new UNEP report notes the contribution of road transport to global warming and air pollution, yet almost half the 1.3 million people who die each year in traffic accidents are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – transport users who generate fewest emissions.
The newly elected mayor of London has said improving the British capital’s air quality will be one of his top priorities. Sadiq Khan’s first policy announcement after winning the election in May was to increase the size of London’s clean air charging zone and impose an additional charge on the most polluting vehicles.
The new city government in Oslo has said it will eliminate private cars from the city centre by 2019 as part of plans to make the Norwegian capital reduce its greenhouse gases by 50%.
The unofficial capital of Europe is the most congested city in Europe, according to the latest ranking of congested cities, but opinion sampling and a vote in Gothenburg suggest public willingness for tackling congestion is not great.
The European Commission is taking legal action against the UK over claims it is exceeding limits on air pollution from traffic. Britain has two months to respond to the case that it breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions, which cause breathing and other health problems.
The Commission’s long-awaited draft legislation on the rules for public authorities to buy road vehicles came out in December, and as expected they will require all authorities in the EU to consider the lifetime cost of pollution emissions and fuel consumption. The principle of bodies such as public transport authorities paying more for vehicles that are environmentally better than cheaper options has been accepted for some time, but the new legislation proposes a harmonised EU methodology for calculating the lifecycle costs of fuel, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulate matter. One study predicts the proposed law could save up to 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2017.