The 7 steps to create effective low-emission zones

Low-emission / Unwelt Zone sign

Low-emission zones (LEZs) have been gaining momentum over the last years, spreading increasingly across Europe. Our analysis, based on Sadler Consultants’ data, has found that 228 LEZs were active in 2019, 320 are active in June 2022, and 507 will be in place in 2025. Their objectives, ambition levels, size, scope and timeline vary depending on the local and national context, which means there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But there are principles and approaches that can be applied to all LEZs in order to make them effective.

This briefing summarises the main elements that determine the success of a low-emission zone based on a literature review, best practice examples and guidance provided by expert groups such as C40 cities or EU-funded projects such as the ReVeAL project.

The 7 steps to create a successful LEZ are:

  1. Defining clearly the objectives, area(s), scope, and timelines when designing a LEZ.
  2. Communicating well in advance and involving citizens and businesses in the process.
  3. Ensuring effective and fair enforcement.
  4. Putting in place complementary measures, especially to promote alternatives such as active mobility as well public and shared transport.
  5. Providing targeted financial support to the most vulnerable groups (e.g. low-income
    households) and, where necessary, certain local charities or businesses.
  6. Monitoring the effects,
  7. Setting a binding and progressive calendar to fully transition to a zero-emission zone (ZEZ) by 2030 at the latest.

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