Zero emission-cities are the way of the future and the mayors of London, Paris, Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Quito, Vancouver, Mexico City, Milan, Seattle, Auckland, and Cape Town are taking strides to bring the far-reaching goal to fruition. The aforementioned mayors have signed the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration, a pledge to procure only zero-emission buses from 2025 and ensure that a major area of their cities are zero emission by 2030. The policies outlined in the agreement aim to drive down air pollution, improve the quality of life for all citizens and tackle climate change.
“The largest sources of air pollution are also the largest sources of carbon emissions — and in many cities, transportation is the biggest culprit,” said Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and C40 Board President. “C40 Mayors understand thriving cities require clean air. By switching to cleaner vehicles, we can fight climate change and save many lives.”
A third of greenhouse gas emissions from C40 cities are derived from transport and traffic is the most significant source of air pollution, globally responsible for up to a quarter of particulate matter in the air. What’s more, a study across the US, UK, France and Germany showed that road congestion is costing the economy an average of one percent of GDP. According to the Declaration, congestion is both holding back economies through lost time and productivity and harming human and environmental health. Recent data shows that dirty air leads to almost 4.5 million premature deaths a year and afflicts many more with illnesses such as asthma.
The Declaration envisions a future where active and shared transport represent the predominant modes of movement for the majority of citizens. It will see signatories commit to increasing usage rates of these modes of transit, reducing the number of inner-city vehicles, procuring zero-emission vehicles for city fleets and collaborating with suppliers, fleet operators and businesses to accelerate the shift to zero emissions vehicles and reduce vehicle miles in cities. As part of their commitment, cities will report their progress every two years.
“Air pollution caused by petrol and diesel vehicles is killing millions of people in cities around the world. The same emissions are also causing climate change,” said Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and C40 Chair. “In Paris, we are taking bold action to prioritize the streets for pedestrians and cyclists. Working with citizens, businesses and mayors of these great cities, we will create green and healthy streets for future generations to enjoy.”
Air pollution has been the target of numerous campaigns and initiatives this year following the publication of a study linking polluted air and Alzheimer’s disease and unprecedented pollution levels in London. Late last year, during the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City, the C40 announced a number of new partnerships with Johnson & Johnson, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Environment’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) aimed at promoting the health and wellbeing of urban inhabitants and halving the number of deaths resulting from air pollution by 2030. Encouraging the uptake of electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles and banning diesel vehicles are key components to the achievement of these goals, and Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, Athens and Britain have already announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025.