Brussels, Belgium

Summary: Recent monitoring by Brussels Environment reveals a significant reduction in key air pollutants in Brussels, with up to a 30% decrease in NO₂ along the city's main roads since the implementation of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in 2018. The LEZ, aimed at combating the prevalent air pollution largely stemming from road traffic, has become a pivotal factor in transforming the environmental landscape of the Belgian capital.

Impact on air quality: The LEZ has played a crucial role in addressing the major public health issue of air pollution in Brussels. As mentioned, there has been a substantial 30% reduction in NO₂ concentrations along the city's primary routes, reflecting the effectiveness of the initiative. Furthermore, the environmental performance of Brussels' road traffic has witnessed significant improvements, including a 31% reduction in NOx emissions, a 30% decrease in PM 2.5, and a remarkable 62% decline in black carbon emissions.

Fleet transformation and bans: The impact on the composition of the car fleet has been profound. Between June 2018 and September 2022, the share of diesel vehicles on the road was nearly halved, and the recent ban on Euro 2022 diesel vehicles has contributed to a further enhancement of environmental standards. As a result, the exclusion of the latest generation of diesel vehicles, many of which lack particulate filters, has led to substantial improvements in air quality.

Future plans and milestones: Looking ahead, Brussels aims to continue its trajectory towards WHO compliance by 2030. The LEZ, set to be gradually strengthened until 2035, envisions achieving more milestones. The upcoming 2025 milestone will extend restrictions not only to Euro 5 diesel and Euro 2 petrol cars but also to trucks, two-wheelers, tricycles, and motor quadricycles. This strategic move is anticipated to further reduce NOx emissions by 40%, with the ultimate goal of phasing out all internal combustion engine vehicles (except heavy goods vehicles) by 2035.

In addition to the regulatory measures, the Brussels Region is actively supporting the LEZ with various initiatives:

  • Almost 20% of the regional budget is dedicated annually to enhancing the offer, quality, and frequency of regional public transport.
  • The Bruxell'Air Premium and LEZ premium incentivize households and businesses to opt for less polluting alternatives.
  • Facilitators are assisting companies and individuals in transitioning to more sustainable mobility.
  • Over 4,000 charging points for electric vehicles are strategically placed, ensuring convenient access for the majority of Brussels households.

Conclusion: the LEZ in Brussels is proving to be a transformative force, not only in reducing air pollution but also in fostering a sustainable and healthier living environment for the residents of the city. The combination of regulatory measures and comprehensive support initiatives positions Brussels at the forefront of smart and eco-friendly urban development.

Source of information: https://www.polisnetwork.eu/news/brussels-low-emission-zone-has-already-improved-air-quality-according-to-brussels-environment/ (Published 11 December 2023).