Traffic-Linked Pollution Exceeds WHO Limits Across European Capitals, As the EU Introduces New Targets for Trucks and Busses: GMPB.

Covered in this week’s Green Mobility Policy Brief: Traffic-linked air pollution exceeds WHO limits across UK, EU capitals: study; New zero-emissions target and emissions reductions for city buses and trucks; £56 million invested into EV Charge Points across England; TfL introduces a new all-electric bus fleet as an ultra-modern and sustainable transport option; £2 bus fare cap to be extended and bus services protected with new funding. 

Traffic-linked air pollution exceeds WHO limits across UK, EU capitals: study. Valentine’s Day 2023 saw the European Parliament ban new petrol and diesel CO2-emitting car sales as of 2035. UK and EU cities have been implementing procedures to minimise road traffic. Although, these actions have not worked to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions (NOx) formed from fossil fuel-burning vehicles to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air has reported the results of what not following WHO air quality standards on city populations lead to. They found road transportation produced the most NOx (37%) in 2020 in the EU. Road transportation comprises 28% of all NOx emissions in the UK in 2020 whereas other forms of transportation caused less harm. Therefore, public health is mostly affected by road transportation, compared to other modes of transport, since most road transportation occurs in highly dense cities. Both the UK and EU have responded to the WHO’s new guidelines through policy plans. Research shows that emissions from transport are decreasing in UK and EU capital cities – for instance where London Expands Ultra-Low Emissions Zone. However, NO2 levels still surpass the new WHO guidelines. Therefore, it is recommended that the European Commission continues its commitment to follow WHO global air quality guidelines when revising the Ambient Air Quality Directive. – Tia Fishlock 

New zero-emissions target and emissions reductions for city buses and trucks. Through a published press release, the European Commission has set out ambitious new targets for emissions reductions for all new heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) from 2030. This aim comes as a positive for decreasing CO2 in line with the European Green Deal (for a resource-efficient EU) and REPowerEU (to limit dependency on Russian oil imports). Particularly, the European Commission has three specific aims: 45% emissions reductions from 2030, 65% reductions from 2035, and 90% reductions from 2040. While this is targeted towards all HDVs, including a focus on trucks, they have also proposed to make all new city buses zero-emission by 2030. This proposal has significant importance due to the rapid rise in HDV-produced emissions in the past 10 years; freight emissions have been increasing at alarming rates year-on-year, with 2019 statistics showing that freight emissions were 44% higher than aviation emissions. Alongside the obvious benefits of reducing unwanted carbon emissions and creating a greener EU, this proposal is also advantageous in boosting international competitiveness, with the EU being marketable in producing buses and trucks. – Zoe Picton

£56 million invested into EV Charge Points across England. Announced on the 21st of February 2023, Technology and Decarbonisation Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, will help deliver up to 2,400 additional charge points for electric vehicles (EVs) from West Sussex all the way to Cumbria. As well as this short-term goal, Norman has also said the government “plans for tens of thousands of extra in due course, so that more people than ever can make the transition to EVs”. This funding expands the current Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (LEVI) scheme, which aims to work with local authorities to develop the EV charging industry. Moreover, this £56 million will also boost the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) – a pilot increasing the availability of on-street charge points, while also dedicating resources to councils across England to develop in-house expertise of EVs. These schemes are essential in reducing harmful air pollution and carbon emissions, and the government’s funding will help unlock the potential of EVs and make them more readily available to the public. It is estimated 16 local authorities will benefit from the rollout, including Sunderland, Rotherham and Norfolk. – Zoe Picton

TfL introduces a new all-electric bus fleet as an ultra-modern and sustainable transport option. In a press release published by TfL (Transport for London), a new route 63 all-electric bus fleet was introduced as an extremely modern and sustainable transport alternative – with the aim to convert the whole fleet by 2034. The key route includes various innovative features which encourage a more attractive and greener option compared to a car. The first all-electric bus fleet in London was introduced in December 2022 by ADL – UK’s biggest coach and bus manufacturers – with the hope to increase more passenger use of public transport. According to TfL, the new route joined an increasing number of London’s 650 zero-emission buses – developing a safer, cleaner and sustainable journey for passengers. Electric buses reduce congestion and are central to the decarbonization agenda, as generally, a double-decker carries more than 80 times the number of car passengers without any harmful emissions being released from their exhausts. TfL’s Director of Buses, Louise Cheeseman, said: “an ongoing investment pipeline into the capital’s zero-emission buses is not only essential to keep London moving in a sustainable way, but is also crucial in supporting green jobs across the UK.” TfL believes that with future investments and if the government agrees to a long term funding deal, this will not only be a sign of a positive sustainable future but will also introduce 3,000 green jobs around the UK. –  Shantelle Gondo  

£2 bus fare cap to be extended and bus services protected with new funding. The ‘Get Around For £2’ campaign shall be extended until the end of June through £75 million of government funding. This is to encourage those outside of London to use public transport, where the participating bus operators are to be confirmed. Because bus usage fell so drastically during the pandemic, the government has given over £2 billion in financial support to the industry. Bus usage is still not at pre-pandemic levels so the government still strives to provide the National Bus Strategy. This is a 2021 strategy called by the government for English local transport authorities outside London to announce their Bus Service Improvement Plans, creating positive changes to the bus industry through passenger demands. The initial £60 million investment into capping single bus fares has already helped to increase bus use, helping families and commuters through the cost-of-living crisis. Many other EU countries have also sought to subsidise public transport, so the continued UK funding is a welcomed programme. – Tia Fishlock

Mexico City introduces 50 new e-buses with support from ZEBRA. An announcement was published on Monday, February 20, stating that a fleet of 50 new articulated electric buses has been introduced in Mexico City’s public transport system. The city’s transport authority, Metrobus, is a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that has drastically reduced traffic and pollution within the past 15 years. The new buses will join Metrobus’ Line 3, which consists of over 280 stations, seven bus lines and totalling up to 1.8 million daily passengers. According to the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), Mexico City has one of the largest fleets of articulated e-buses worldwide. The city’s electric buses project received technical assistance from the Zero-Emission Bus Rapid Development Accelerator (ZEBRA), which helps public authorities in Latin America put in place low-carbon e-mobility projects. With ZEBRA’s support, Metrobus aims to electrify its entire fleet by 2035. The announcement also states that an electric deployment strategy launched in March 2022, confirmed that ZEBRA cities in Latin America as well as other cities around the world have proved that electric buses are the ultra-modern alternative for the rejuvenation of diesel fleets -as they massively impact the economy and the environment by reducing local and climate pollution. –  Shantelle Gondo