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Low emission zones worldwide

It is not only in Europe that it has been recognised that restrictions on traffic are necessary to reduce pollutant emissions. All over the world, new rules and restrictions are being introduced to help reduce the share of deadly pollutant emissions and, above all, to better protect the population in cities.


In China, traffic is responsible for twelve per cent of carbon dioxide emissions, and in urban areas even for more than 25 per cent. By 2030, this share will rise to 33 percent nationwide. Added to this is pollution from particulate matter, for which traffic accounts for an average of 25 per cent. In order to control pollution, the city of Beijing set up an environmental zone in 2017 that bans heavy goods vehicles below a certain pollutant emission level from the city. The measurement of pollutant emissions is subject to a national Chinese system of limit values. At the same time, an information campaign was launched among the population. But the biggest success so far is that environmental pollution has been included in the Party's 5-year plan.

Hong Kong has had environmental zones since 2015, but not contiguous ones. Three major traffic junctions and their surroundings are affected. But so far these zones only apply to buses. The transport companies that send their buses through these environmental zones must ensure that they comply with at least Euro 4. Since 2019, the vehicles even need to be at least Euro 5.

How do you deal with pollution in Tokyo? As early as 1968, the Japanese government passed a law to control air quality. With success: the proportion of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter has decreased, most recently also the proportion of particularly small particles of particulate matter (2.5PM). Tokyo is extremely densely populated, has a number of large traffic arteries and an abundance of industries, many of which are located directly in the city. The greatest pollution from traffic comes from diesel vehicles, although they account for only 20 per cent of all traffic. Despite this, Tokyo did not set a limit on particulate matter until 1994. In 1999, a tightening was proposed, which was implemented by 2002. Since 2003, the Tokyo municipal government has been controlling all diesel vehicles that exceed these limits. The pressure from the controls in Tokyo led to three neighbouring prefectures also introducing the same rules. In addition, the proportion of nitrogen oxide was improved: while before the new rules only 30 of the measuring stations complied with the limit values, in 2005 it was already 50 per cent and in 2009 a full 90 per cent.

Asia is not the only country to have recognised the danger of air pollution for its own population. South American cities also want to limit pollutant emissions by setting up environmental zones, for example in Mexico City, Bogotá, Santiago and São Paulo.

In California, they want to reduce the sale of combustion cars. Last year, it was already decided to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035. This applies to passenger cars as well as motorbikes and buses. However, used petrol and diesel cars may continue to be driven.  Now, a law has also been passed that autonomously driving vehicles will only be allowed from 2030 onwards if they do not produce any exhaust gases. From 2045, even newly sold trucks will no longer emit any emissions.

For all restrictions and environmental zones in Europe, we provide all the details in our Green Zones app so that you always know where you can drive your vehicle at what time.