Spain is getting serious about cleaning up its air, and that’s the case in cities across the country. Due to the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law, most Spanish cities will be implementing low-emission zones within their borders in 2023. Spanish municipalities with 50,000 residents or more have to implement such zones. According to one Spanish news source, that’s nearly 150 Spanish municipalities.
In addition to those core cities, any city with more than 20,000 residents and episodes of high pollution also has to implement low-emission zones.
The legal details of what all of these cities have to implement are quite vague: “A low emission zone is understood as the area delimited by a Public Administration, in the exercise of its powers, within its territory, on a continuous basis, and in which restrictions on access, movement and parking of vehicles are applied to improve the quality of the air and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, in accordance with the classification of vehicles by their level of emissions in accordance with the provisions of the current General Vehicle Regulations.”
So, basically, the cities have to restrict access, transportation routes, or parking access in some way based on environmental classification labels (A, B, C, ECO, and ZERO). Within those boundaries, city councils have the power to decide what exact Low-Emission Zone will exist in their jurisdiction.
As of today, just Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville (among cities within Spain) have Low Emissions Zones in place. As an example, the whole city of Barcelona is within the Low Emission Zone (ZBE) for the city. Here’s what Madrid is doing: “Madrid has the Central District Special Protection Low Emissions Zone (ZBE), formerly known as Central Madrid, which only allows access and circulation to cars and vehicles with a ZERO and ECO label — although, it has an extensive list of exceptions.
“In addition, the capital will also soon have another ZBE, the Plaza Elíptica, as it will be activated on December 22. In this case, access will only be restricted to vehicles with label A — that is, those without an environmental label.”
Seville’s current policy for this is not permanent and depends on traffic use.
More cities need this kind of policy in order to quicken the societal switch to clean, green, electric cars, trucks, and SUVs (as well as more bikers).
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