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Clean Air Revelations During the Autumn of 2020

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Around Europe, there is much progress in moving forward with clean-air plans, and in recent months, we have observed just how valuable clean air is for our health -- especially during a pandemic -- and many new revelations on how clean cars really are on the road.

In the U.K., many cities are moving forward with either new or expanded Clean Air Zones, new charging schemes, or alterations in the roadways included in various clean-air plans. Here are just a few updates from recent news stories:

  • Camden is encouraging the government to adopt the World Health Organization’s air- quality targets as part of policy.

  • In London, many drivers could be facing £300 daily charges.

  • Bath’s Clean Air Zone plans to start March 15, 2021.

  • Bristol intends on a decision to be made about its charging scheme before Christmas.

  • London plans to expand its Ultra Low Emission Zone.

“The new area will be 18 times the size of the original and cover a significant portion of the capital.” -- the Evening Standard 
  • Leeds is scaling back its Low Emission Zone but intends to keep its automatic number plate recognition (ANPRs).

  • Birmingham is moving ahead with starting up its LEZ in June 2021.

The Netherlands and Ireland are also experiencing changes to enhanced clean-air schemes:

  • The Netherlands plans to start introducing zero-emission zones.

  • Ireland plans to increase taxes to target high emitters.

Groundbreaking research by Fraunhofer Institute and the ICCT on hybrids and “their large deviation between on-road CO2 emissions and fuel efficiency and the official vehicle type-approval values” also continued circulating in news outlets throughout Europe this month. This showcases the fact that real-world emission detection is paramount. It is also important to note that, according to The Times, more than "6,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.K. could have been avoided if the victims had breathed clean air.”

Furthermore, manufacturers who do not meet the criteria for acceptable CO2 levels can redeem or purchase CO2 credits from other manufacturers to avoid penalties. An Automobile Propre article states, “those who don't reach their targets will be subject to a penalty of 95 euros per gram of excess multiplied by the number of cars sold."

Announced in October, Apple Maps is now offering motorists a way to get around Low Emission Zones by having the map route avoid them. Dutch cities are trying out this updated application. Of course, Google Maps, with the integration of Waze, a crowd information sourced map application that allows road users to input current conditions such as blockages or roadworks, has allowed users to do this in a rudimentary way for years, but now users will have the opportunity to choose alternate routes, exclusively avoiding LEZs. 

Many questions come to mind:

  • What does this say about public and industry perception of Clean Air Zones?

  • How does this affect those who live on the outskirts of cities where these alternate routes will divert traffic? 

  • Are we just pushing the pollution “out of sight, out of mind” and not fixing the root of the problem?

  • How can we make these zones more effective and less intimidating to motorists and businesses?

One compelling way to answer these questions is to use remote-sensing technology to regulate emissions in real time. EDAR continuously monitors all vehicle types from above the roadway in a similar manner as an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera, but with far more enhanced capabilities. A few positive effects of this type of implementation include identifying and fixing excessively emitting vehicles sooner, allowing for a wide range of socioeconomic groups to benefit and not be singled out or excluded, proactively identifying defeat or cheat devices, and encouraging proper vehicle maintenance.


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