What is the Clean Cities Campaign?
The Clean Cities Campaign is a new European movement of grassroots, environmental, health and other civil society organisations aiming to encourage cities to transition to zero-emission transport by 2030. The campaign champions active, shared and electric mobility for a more liveable and sustainable urban future, which also requires phasing-out polluting vehicles from cities within a decade.
What is an internal combustion engine (ICE) and why are you working to phase it out?
Vehicles with an internal combustion engine (ICE) burn fuels that drive the climate crisis, harm our health and keep us hostage to oil. It’s the diesel, petrol and gas vehicles, including all hybrids, which are part of the problem and create a multitude of issues we need to tackle. We need to get them off our roads for climate reasons, health reasons and to make our cities more liveable and sustainable – in addition to freeing us from the age of oil.
What issues is the Clean Cities Campaign concerned with?
The world’s leading climate scientists have warned that there is about a decade left for us to keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly heighten the risk of floods, droughts and extreme temperatures. The transport sector has been one of the main culprits driving runaway climate crisis and in Europe about a quarter of all emissions comes from transport. If we are serious about tackling climate change, we cannot afford to keep polluting cars and vans on our roads.
Road transport is not only bad for the climate, it’s also a major source of air pollution, which overall causes over 400,000 premature deaths each year in Europe alone. Today’s cars create a silent but dangerous threat to the health of those who live in cities. Air pollution contributes to chronic illnesses including lung disease, cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, and it can also damage the brain, skin and other organs — affecting practically every system in the human body. Children, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases are particularly at risk. There is also growing evidence that air pollution probably makes populations more susceptible to pandemics like COVID-19. Urban air pollution is a health emergency which has to be tackled immediately.
A liveable city is a healthy city where the wellbeing and happiness of the community comes first. Sustainable and accessible transport is at the heart of making cities cleaner, healthier and more liveable. This means rethinking urban mobility by:
In other words, liveable cities are where we breathe clean air, we have access to lots of greenery and we have more space to move around safely and actively.
Are zero-emission cars really the solution for our cities? What’s your vision for a sustainable urban future?
Given the scarcity of space in cities, we aim for a reimagining of cities to make them cleaner, healthier and more liveable. We therefore want to reduce the number of cars overall by promoting more active mobility, like walking and cycling, more widespread public and shared electric transport as well as new forms of micromobility, like scooters and e-bikes. All remaining vehicles should go zero-emissions to drastically curb toxic air pollution and help tackle climate change. The remaining emissions from tyres and brakes also need to be tackled, and luckily, both technological solutions and new EU regulations are underway to address those.
Why do you focus on European cities?
Cities across the world have understood that now is the time to move towards clean mobility and have already begun to remodel their urban environments. Cities are some of the most powerful allies in the clean transport debate as urban politics represent a major opportunity in shifting quickly to zero emission mobility. Urban areas also hold huge sway over governments, culture and mindsets in general. Imagine what would happen if major cities in Europe would ban combustion engine cars from their streets by 2030? This would send a hugely powerful signal to car manufacturers as well as car buyers, that their next car, if any, must be zero emissions. This isn’t science fiction. It’s actually happening: Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels have already announced that in the near future, combustion engines will no longer be welcome.
Widespread measures like Low and Zero Emissions Zones (LEZ and ZEZ) have proved that cities play a vital role in transitioning the continent to zero-emission mobility by introducing restrictions for polluting vehicles. Reallocating space to walking, cycling, public transport and parks are key measures to achieve the EU’s climate neutrality goals and have been pivotal in pushing the EU to pursue more progressive transport policies.
Are solutions to this crisis already available?
Absolutely! Many cities are already implementing solutions but we need more urgent and widespread action from policymakers. Cities and governments should directly focus on banning vehicles with internal combustion engines from city streets by 2030 at the latest, and they can do so by implementing a variety of policy options — reallocating public space to walking, cycling and greenery; promoting and investing in public transport and shared electric mobility, as well as allowing only zero-emission cars and vans to circulate within city boundaries. The European Union could also send a strong signal to cities and governments by setting an EU-wide end date for the sales of cars and vans with internal combustion engines.
As an individual I would like to support the Clean Cities Campaign. What shall I do?
Great question! First and foremost — SIGN THE PETITION!
Join citizens from across Europe and ask Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, to end the sale of new diesel, petrol and gas cars, including all hybrids.
Then don’t forget to follow us on social media:
And don’t forget to be a part of the change you want to see in your own city! Vote, write, protest, join the growing movement — whatever avenue you take, make your voice heard on the world you want to see and be a part of.
I am an organisation and I would like to become a partner of Clean Cities Campaign. How can I join?
We would love to hear from you! Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch soon.