Amsterdam Netherlands dancing houses over river Amstel landmark in old european city spring landscape

Amsterdam to ban polluting vehicles by 2030

Image credit: Olga Lupol | Dreamstime.com

Petrol and diesel fuelled cars and motorcycles will be banned from the City of Amsterdam from 2030 in an effort to clean up the city’s air, the Dutch capital’s council has announced.

Despite the widespread use of bicycles by many Dutch people, air pollution in the Netherlands is worse than European rules permit. This is mainly due to heavy traffic in the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

The country’s health minister has warned that current levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate-matter emissions can lead to respiratory illnesses, with chronic exposure shortening life expectancy by more than a year.

According to the city’s traffic councillor Sharon Dijksma, “pollution often is a silent killer and is one of the greatest health hazards in Amsterdam.”  

Dijksma also said the most effective way to change this is to bring in emissions-free transport. “This is something the city council has a direct effect on,” she commented, “hence my mission to make Amsterdam the ‘world capital of emissions free mobility’.”

Amsterdam aims to replace all petrol and diesel engines by emission-free alternatives, such as electric and hydrogen cars, by the end of the next decade.

From next year, diesel-powered cars that pre-date 2005 will be banned from the area within Amsterdam’s A10 ring road and further restrictions will be brought in gradually as the plan is put into practice, with the first evaluation taking place in 2022.

The city’s council also said it will use subsidies and parking permits to stimulate people to switch to cleaner cars or use alternative modes of transport.

In April 2019, junior environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven said she planned to give local authorities the opportunity to ban old diesel cars and vans by setting up ‘environmental zones’. Some 4,100 cars would be affected by the Amsterdam ban.

Dijksma’s plan for emissions-free transport foresees van Veldhoven’s proposed environmental zone being gradually extended.

Once these zones cover most of the city, they plan to have a complete ban on petrol and diesel cars in smaller areas. Nine streets in the city currently break EU pollution standards.

The city, however, will need 16,000-23,000 charging stations by 2025 to make the project a success, Dijksma said. Currently, there are 3,000 charging stations for electric cars in the city.

Grants and subsidies will also be used to encourage motorists to make the switch. “The switch to emissions-free travel will require everyone to contribute: companies, residents and visitors,” Dijksma said.

The city has already banned the most polluting vehicles from the area within the ring road and from 2022 buses and coaches will not be allowed in the city centre if they produce exhaust emissions.

The race to become the first carbon-neutral capital is on, with more than 70 major cities pledging to end their reliance on fossil fuels and stop pumping out climate-changing emissions by 2050.

The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen, is no exception, with city officials announcing in October 2018, its intentions to accomplish this shift in just seven years, by 2025.

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