Addressing a large-scale implementation of low-emission zones in France

University essay from KTH/Systemanalys och ekonomi

Abstract: Air pollution is a public health issue, and traffic is one of the main sources of pollutants such as NO2, PM10 and PM2.5. Consequently, European cities have been implementing low-emission zones (LEZs) by defining regulated areas, where the most-polluting vehicles are prohibited from driving. Such measure has been proven to mostly accelerate local fleet renewal rates, thus decreasing emissions and overall pollutant concentrations, provided that restrictions were strict enough. The 2019 mobility-orientation law in France made mandatory for some territories to set up action plans for tackling air pollution issues. With only four currently implemented LEZs in France, feedback from similar territories within the country may be lacking for decision-makers. The goal of this thesis was therefore to aggregate past experiences of already-implemented LEZs in Europe in order to provide recommendations for a large-scale implementation of such policy in France. Relevant city-specific indicators were identified, and K-Means clustering was implemented in order to classify European cities currently implementing LEZs. Such typology was applied to French territories that may face an obligation to implement a LEZ. Recommendations regarding the most relevant strategies were thus formulated. Four city archetypes were identified – public transport metropoles, cycling cities, car-oriented cities, and walkable-impoverished cities. LEZ strategies applied in Berlin, Brussels and Lisbon were respectively the identified best practices associated with the first three clusters. Moreover, out of the 263 French territories targeted in the mobility-orientation law, 54 of them were classified according to the developed typology. More specifically, the majority of them fell into the car-oriented archetype and 20 agglomerations could hence reasonably adapt the Lisbon strategy to their local specificities. Six territories at the outskirts of Paris, associated with public transport metropoles, could also investigate how the current Greater Paris LEZ affect their inhabitants. This thesis is the first to propose a typology tailored for LEZ evaluation. By incorporating modal shares within the classification indicators, potential synergies between LEZs and existing transportation networks were highlighted. Additionally, this thesis shows that future research should focus on investigating impacts of LEZs on traveling patterns and mode choices (vehicle purchases, modal shifts, etc.). This would help future ex-ante evaluations to better calibrate hypotheses regarding direct effects of LEZs.

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