How cities around the world are tackling emissions with green transport

From Singapore to Barcelona and Paris, here's how the world has been trying to find cleaner ways to travel

Rodrigo Kugnharski via Unsplash

With transport responsible for 22% of the world’s greenhouse gases every year, there has been a rise in new transportation schemes around the globe that aim to reduce carbon emissions.

Similar models to London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone had been introduced before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, with Italy leading the way with the highest number of low emissions zones followed by Germany and the Netherlands.

Here are some other innovative green transport schemes around the world — these details are of how schemes operated before the pandemic.

Singapore’s fully automatic pricing scheme charges drivers based on the specific route they travel, the time of day and responds to congestion in real-time. Despite strong population growth, the scheme has reduced traffic in the inner city by 24%, whilst levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 10-15%.

“It provides the ability to control traffic volumes though a flexible charging structure and is desperately needed to be introduced to other cities including London,” says Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London.

Bremen, Germany

The city’s council offers 344 carsharing vehicles at 102 stations on public roads. It is estimated that each car-sharing vehicle replaces 16 privately owned cars, resulting in 5,000 fewer vehicles on Bremen’s streets.

Users of the scheme enjoy a series of benefits such as not having to cover the cost of vehicle maintenance, taxes or insurance costs.

“It’s a great example of ‘servitisation’ — replacing the privateownership norm with effective, user-friendly services,” says Rory Thomson Nelson, who specialises in design and change at Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden.

Paris, France

Paris uses a six-category sticker system where certain vehicles can access the city centre during the week depending on their sticker allocation. For example, it bans all cars on the first Sunday of every month from the city centre.


The observatory in charge of monitoring air quality estimates that the scheme will result in a 16% reduction of NO2 emissions. However, Paris resident and lawyer Ariel Bali is not so convinced.

In 2015, local authorities decided to renovate and modernise their Soviet-era tram network, resulting in a 40% drop in electricity consumption.

“This is the dream — to have an all-electric public transport system which meets the travel needs of the city’s population,” says Professor Kelly.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark’s capital has created one of the world’s most extensive cycling networks. With eight cycle superhighways covering a distance of 167 km (and another eight more on the way), Copenhagen will be offering a total of 45 cycling routes covering more than 750 km by 2045.

The city also discourages car use through one of the world’s most aggressive tax schemes, charging up to 150% registration tax on new car sales. As a consequence, 62% of all Copenhagen residents commute to work by bike.

“Infrastructure is the key to our success. We give space for people to bike. It is visible to the bike commuters that there is a space for them, giving them a status,” says Sidsel Birk Hjuler, head of the cycle superhighways office in the Danish capital region.

Curitiba, Brazil

The southern Brazilian city has one of the biggest and cheapest bus systems in the world, meaning its residents spend approximately 10% of their income on travel, far below the national average.

Curitiba has long implemented a bus rapid transit system where the buses run very frequently, some as often as every 90 seconds, resulting in nearly 70% of the city using public transport to get to work.

Barcelona, Spain

Spain’s second largest municipality has implemented a transportation model whereby cars are banned within areas designated “superblocks”.

A study by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health estimates the creation of 503 superblocks — there are six now, with more planned — would reduce air pollution by 24% annually and could prevent up to 667 premature deaths. “Superblocks have turned out to be effective measures helping reduce emissions and improve air quality.

In the case of Sant Antoni, for example, car traffic has been reduced by 82%, NO2 has decreased by 33%, and PM10 by 4% within one year,” says Mariola Panzuela Malgosa, from Zero Emission Vehicles, C40 Cities.


The post was published at


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More