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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article5 October 20222 min read

Study highlights effective ways to reduce car use in cities

Cities and regions across Europe - and beyond - have set ambitious carbon reduction targets, targets which require radical, transformative action. Reducing volumes of private passenger vehicles is essential for achieving these targets. Indeed across Europe from Brussels to London, Paris to Barcelona, cities are taking increasingly radical action to cut car use.

There is widespread research showing that reducing car use has amongst the highest potential to reduce per capita emissions. However, a gap remains in understanding the processes and policies that cities can adopt to reduce their reliance on cars. A recent study, co-authored by Paula Kuss and Kimberly A. Nicholas, “A dozen effective interventions to reduce car use in European cities: Lessons learned from a meta-analysis and transition management”, screened hundreds of car reduction initiatives to highlight 12 successful interventions, including limited traffic zones, workplace parking charges and congestion charges, that were effective in reducing car use.

“Electric vehicles frequently dominate our decarbonisation agendas, yet this is not the full story, car reduction is critical to achieving the climate neutrality goals we have set ourselves; for health, climate and equity,” asserted Professor Nicholas at a recent webinar held by POLIS Network that reviewed how cities and regions can translate such research into action on the ground.

One of the cities highlighted in the report is the Swedish city of Lund. The report identifies three policies in that city that have been implemented to reduce local car use: parking and traffic control; workplace parking charge; and mobility services for commuters. However, the authors emphasise the importance of identifying effective and locally suitable interventions. As with many cities, Lund has clear climate ambitions, but is not yet on track to meet these. A recent evaluation by independent experts confirmed that the Lund municipality “needs to implement measures to reduce car use” in order to meet its 2030 climate goal. Transport emissions in the city have declined by only 10% since 1990, and today contribute 52% of emissions in Lund’s geographical boundaries, 72% of which come from car use.

The research identified 12 intervention types such as congestion charges and workplace parking, and classified these according to their intervention approach (push, pull, or both) and possible policy instruments used. As the POLIS webinar explored, these can be used by cities to inform city-level efforts to reduce car use in a coordinated and effective way.

You can read the full paper here.



Publication date
5 October 2022
  • Policy and research
  • Sweden