The implementation of low emission zones (ZBEs) restricting circulation in the center of cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants will be a reality in 2024, despite the disapproval of most motorists. To reduce polluting emissions from vehicles with combustion engines and improve air quality in large cities, before January 1, 2024, 149 municipalities – with more residents than previously mentioned – must activate a ZBE. Therefore, as of that date, only vehicles that have an ecological label from the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) will be able to access city centres, leading to the exclusion of more than six million cars, according to company figures. Dgt.
The age of vehicles in the national car park is a growing problem, as the average age of cars is currently over 14 years, compared to 8 years in 2010. Therefore, 28% of passenger cars do not have the right to this eco-label because they are too old.
With the aim of facilitating the transition to the new model of cities with ZBE, consumer and user organizations (OCUs) have proposed seven lines of action to the municipal administration and the central administration.
Action Lines for Municipal Administration
- “Wide, clear and clearly visible” signage must be installed at entrances to low emissions areas, not only on the road itself, but also at the edges and even including light equipment. Most penalties in these areas are due to driver ignorance or poor signage.
- Create park-and-ride parking spaces within the boundaries of LEZs that are free and well connected to the center. “It is important to provide residents of suburbs and neighboring cities with quick and easy access to the city with cars without the DGT environmental label,” the OCU explains.
- There must be an “explicit and determined” commitment to sustainable mobility: promoting public transport, a network of protected and interconnected cycle lanes, pedestrianising historic and commercial areas or promoting intermodality between different modes of transport.
- The right to enter the ZBE three times a year with a car without an eco-label, as the environmental impact would be very limited and it would also facilitate entry for residents in emergencies such as hospital visits or sporadic tourists.
Action Lines for General Administration
- Replace the current DGT environmental labeling system, so that actual emissions are prioritized over engine technology. The OCU says that “most new low-power diesel or gasoline vehicles pollute less than large-displacement plug-in hybrids and many mild hybrids.”
- Extend the Moves plan assistance for used cars with zero emission or eco labels for more than 12 months. The increase in the price of vehicles deters many users from replacing it with a new one without the label that they actually need to enter the city for work or family reasons.
- Information on the regulation, expansion, access or park-and-ride parking conditions of the 149 low emission zones throughout Spain.