Low-emission zone

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Sign for Zero-Emission Zone

A Low-Emission Zone (LEZ) is a geographically defined area which seeks to restrict or deter access by specific polluting vehicles or only allow low emitting vehicles, such as regular or plug-in hybrids, or zero-emission vehicles, such as all-electric vehicles, with the aim of improving the air quality.

A Zero-Emission Zone (ZEZ) is a LEZ where only Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) are allowed. In such areas, all internal combustion engine vehicles are banned; this includes hybrid vehicles. Only all-electric vehicles are allowed in a ZEZ, along with walking and cycling and fully electric public transport vehicles, e.g. trams, electric buses etc.


Sign marking a German Low Emission Zone

Over 70 cities and towns in 8 countries around Europe operate or are preparing Low Emission Zones, or LEZs, to help meet the EU health-based air quality limit values, where the most polluting vehicles are regulated. This means that vehicles may be banned or in some cases charged if they enter the LEZ when their emissions are over a set level.

Different vehicles are regulated, depending on the local conditions. All LEZs affect heavy duty vehicles, some affect diesel vans, others also affect diesel and this petrol cars; in Italy, motor cycles and three-wheelers are also included.

A Publicly Funded website run by a network of cities and ministries operating or preparing LEZs, with EU part funding gives up-to-date information on LEZs, such as which cities have LEZs, the vehicle types affected, the required emissions standards and their application dates.[1]


In Germany, an LEZ is called Umweltzone (environmental zone). There are currently 47 LEZs in operation or planning in Germany.[1] The cities of Berlin, Cologne and Hanover started LEZs in their respective central city areas on 1 January 2008. LEZs also came into effect in the cities of Mannheim and Stuttgart on 1 March 2008. More cities followed the years after.[2][3]

After the end of the wrecking bonus of 2009 with many advanced sales, the car sales dropped. The low emission zone proceeds premature wrecking without a bonus.


The cities of Gothenburg, Lund, Malmö, Helsingborg, Mölndal and Stockholm have Low Emission Zones.

United Kingdom[edit]

The Mayor of London announced establishment of a Low Emission Zone which came into effect on 4 February 2008 covering almost all of Greater London - the largest such zone in the world. London currently has levels of air pollution among the worst in Europe and road transport related emissions account for around half of total emissions of PM10 and NOx in the capital.[citation needed] The Low Emission Zone will target emissions of these pollutants from older diesel-engined lorries, buses, coaches, vans, minibuses and other heavy vehicles that are derived from lorries and vans such as motor caravans and motorised horse boxes. There will be a phased introduction of the scheme from 4 February 2008 through to January 2012. Different vehicles will be affected over time and increasingly tougher emissions standards will apply.[4]

Netherlands, Denmark and Italy[edit]

The Netherlands, Denmark & Italy also have LEZs. The Netherlands for heavy goods vehicles, Denmark for vehicles over 3.5T and Italy for all vehicles.[1]



Tokyo has been a Low Emission Zone since October 2003.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


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