May 18. 2024. 3:46

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EU Commission OKs Stockholm’s new petrol, diesel car-free zone


The European Commission has approved the creation of an environmental zone in the city centre of Stockholm, where petrol and diesel cars will be banned entirely from 2025.

Last year, the city of Stockholm’s Green-Social Democrat coalition decided to introduce a “Class 3 environmental zone” in the city centre, effectively banning petrol and diesel cars from that area, as Euractiv previously reported.

The project drew the ire of the centre-right opposition at the town hall, and in January, the European Commission launched a review to ensure that the green zone did not infringe on the principle of free movement.

According to local daily Mitti, the European Commission found no objections to Stockholm City Council’s plan, which will come into force on 31 December 2024.

This means that petrol and diesel cars will be banned from an area covering 20 blocks of Stockholm’s city centre and that only electric cars and low-emission gas vehicles, including transport and taxis, will be allowed. For heavy traffic, however, low-emission plug-in hybrids will be allowed.

“This means that the introduction of the environmental zone will continue as planned. As of 31 December, Stockholm will be the first city in the world to ban petrol and diesel cars from a part of the city,” Lars Strömgren, Green Party councillor for traffic in Stockholm, told the newspaper.

According to the Greens, the environmental zone is being introduced in an area with many pedestrians and cyclists, where air quality needs to be improved.

“It is also a part of the city centre where we see that there is a great commitment to faster electrification, with actors who can be the driving force in the transition,” said Strömgren.

The opposition on the city council, from the Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s party, the Moderates, did not mince their words when the project was being drawn up, which they consider an ideological symbol.

“This is ideological symbolic politics,” opposition mayor Dennis Wedin told TT press agency earlier.

According to him, the zone will make the city centre less accessible and exclude people who cannot afford electric cars.

“They are breaking promises and letting the Green Party use the city centre as their experimental workshop,” he said.

According to the Moderates, the best way to promote air quality is for more people to switch to electricity, which requires more charging points and differentiated congestion taxes and parking fees for electric vehicles.

However, Wadin agreed that Stockholm should not be designed for cars, and his party supports the goal of emission-free traffic in the city centre by 2030.

(Charles Szumski | Euractiv.com)

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