Expert assessment of impact of policy measures on urban air quality in Amsterdam

Friends of the Earth-Netherlands (Milieudefensie) asked CE Delft to crunch the numbers on the effects of a range of policy measures that could have been implemented to meet European air-quality standards in 2015. The organisation wanted a specific assessment of what measures could have been taken at the national or urban level and what additional location-specific measures would have been required.

Milieudefensie will be using the quantitative results in their appeal against the ruling announced in their court case against the Dutch state on this issue. This expert assessment by CE Delft brings clarity to the debate, shedding light on how the Dutch state could have met the EU standards, leaving the judge to pronounce on whether the required policy package can be deemed ‘proportional’.

The following measures were proposed and evaluated by CE Delft:

  • 10 ct higher diesel fuel duty
  • a flat-rate kilometre charge of 7ct/km for passenger cars and vans and 15 ct/km for heavy goods vehicles
  • abolition of untaxed commuting-cost reimbursement 
  • a congestion charge on roads inside the ring 
  • more public transport and cycling in the city through greater investment
  • environmental zoning for passenger cars and vans older than 2001
  • public-transport buses switching to Euro 6.

The study focus mainly on ‘volume measures’ and in particular on reducing the number of diesel vehicles. Further measures to clean up the vehicle fleet over and above environmental zoning and cleaner buses have only a very limited additional impact.
Given that air-quality problems are restricted to cities, we took Amsterdam – the city with the largest number of air-quality hotspots exceeding limits – for our calculations. Measures that can resolve the problems in Amsterdam can in all probability also do so in other major cities, although location-specific measures will be required to tackle the worst hotspots there, too.