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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article23 May 2022Barcelona1 min read

Barcelona is to ban older cars and vans on days of high pollution

From the middle of May 2022, the Spanish city of Barcelona will ban the most polluting vehicles from entering its Low Emission Zone at times of high nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels. The ban will extend to diesel cars that meet the Euro 2 emissions standard or lower, petrol cars that meet the Euro 3 standard or lower and to vans that were put on the market before the Euro 1 standard was introduced. It will prevent these vehicles from entering the zone on weekdays between 7.00 and 20.00. 

If a driver is caught using a banned vehicle in the zone, they will receive a €100 fine (reduced to €50 if it is paid instantly). The enforcement of the ban makes use of the environmental badges that have been given to vehicle owners to reflect the Euro standard with which their vehicle complies. Since these have not yet been handed out to all car drivers, licence plate recognition is also being used for enforcement at the start of the scheme.

The high NO2 episodes at which the ban will enter into force only occur twice of three times a year, although the ban is still expected to decrease NO2 levels at these most pressing moments by 18%. The owners of the vehicles that are affected by the ban are able to benefit from special offers, if they scrap their vehicles. For example, the T-Green Card is a promotional programme that grants everyone who scraps a polluting vehicle, and who does not buy a new one, a 3-year public transport ticket.

The ban is about to be extended to 40 municipalities in the wider Metropolitan Area, which requires a change to the traffic regulations. Barcelona’s Mobility Manager, Manuel Valdés, underlined the need to act on bad air quality by saying “Today, going with a polluting private vehicle kills us.” Municipal data backs his statement: exceeding WHO air quality limits results in about 250 deaths and 1,500 hospital admissions per year. Researchers at the Vall d'Hebron Hospital have proven that days on which there are higher levels of air pollution result in more heart attacks and higher mortality.



Publication date
23 May 2022
  • Urban Vehicle Access Regulations
  • Spain