Zero emission zone: Oxford will be the first city without polluting cars

Elizabeth Smith

For decades we have polluted without worrying much about the environmental consequences. Now it is time for a decisive about-face and many countries are now choosing to set themselves ambitious objectives to drastically reduce polluting emissions, starting from those from cars. While cities around the world compete over objectives and deadlines for banning polluting vehicles, Oxford has beaten everyone to the punch. The British community that hosts the prestigious university center has in fact announced a plan, developed almost silently, which should lead to the creation of the first zero-emission zone in the world.

Zero Emissions Zone (ZEZ): Oxford is the first zero emission zone

With the Zero Emissions Zone (ZEZ) project, the municipality has decided to introduce a total ban on the circulation of all petrol and diesel vehicles, including public transport, on the six main roads of the town starting from 2020.

In short, in in just over two years Oxford will inaugurate a zero-emissions zone in the centre. But it won’t end here. The objective of the local administration is in fact to take steps, introducing the ban in a much larger area by 2025, to then arrive at 2035 with a total ban for the entire municipal territory.

“Pollution – declared John Tanner, one of the city councilors who fought most for this sustainable mobility plan – damages the health of those who live in Oxford. A decisive step towards change was necessary and our plan for a zero-emission zone is it.”

According to estimates, if everything goes as planned, in 18 years the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere should drop by at least 75%.

Strong investments in electric mobility to support the transition

Clearly any strong ban push for radical change needs incentives to support it. Oxford City Hall has already obtained initial funding of 500,000 pounds from the national government to build dozens of charging points for electric taxis and another 800,000 to build others reserved for private cars.

To promote the transition, the introduction of advantageous rates for parking spaces reserved for electric vehicles has already been envisaged.

Wave of enthusiasm and protests

As with any binding measure, the ZEZ plan provoked a wave of enthusiasm alongside a series of protests, led above all by the categories most affected.

Those who are worried are the companies that manage public mobility as well as the taxi companies, which will be forced to face particularly costly investments to comply with the obligation.

The municipality, in addition to guaranteeing incentives for the transition towards electric mobility, has repeatedly reiterated that it is only a matter of bringing forward by 5 years the ban on the sale of polluting cars which will come into force throughout the United Kingdom in 2040.

And what happens in the rest of Europe?

Great Britain is not the only one to have banned polluting cars. France has set the same time horizon. By 2040, diesel and petrol cars will no longer be sold.

Germany is much further ahead, because it has approved a resolution which provides for a total ban on the circulation of fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2030.

Although in reality none of these countries seems to be really ready to support this change, given the lack of number of electric cars currently circulating and the lack of infrastructure.

Read also: The automaker that from 2030 on will sell only electric cars

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