Atmosphere, climate, and weather

Air Quality – How’s it in Europe?


In March 2015, BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) has published “Sootfree Cities”, a ranking which graded the efforts of 23 major European cities to improve air quality. Upon this ranking, it is highlighted how European cities have been actively combating air pollution in the transport sector. Meanwhile, the local air quality actions are still not enough and cities are also exposed to pollution they cannot control. These emissions are regulated at national or EU level where inadequate actions against air pollution are seen.


The city of Zurich has become the winner, due to a mixed policy that includes a strong commitment to reduce pollution from vehicles, the promotion of cleaner forms of transport and low levels of air pollution. The runner-ups, Copenhagen, Vienna and Stockholm, also showed that it is possible to reduce the number of cars substantially and expand cleaner forms of transport, such as public transport, cycling and walking. At the other end of the ranking, Lisbon and Luxembourg finish in the last bottom two places for tackling air pollution in only a half-hearted manner.


The “Sootfree Cities” ranking evaluated 23 of Europe’s cities in 9 transport-related categories including the promotion of sustainable transport, traffic management, public procurement and economic incentives. The ranking also took into account how successful each city had been at reducing the pollution at its urban traffic stations. The ranking concentrated on measures put in place in cities over the past five years and looked at air quality plans for the next five years.

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