With the UN Climate Change Summit taking place in Glasgow this year, all eyes are on Scotland’s efforts to reduce emissions and help tackle change. We’ll be taking a look at what Scottish cities have in place so far, what is planned for the future and how they will overcome the barriers that come with creating a Net Zero environment.
Glasgow is currently leading the way in creating a “Net Zero” city, with big cuts to traffic in the city centre. It was the first city in Scotland to create low-emissions zones (LEZ) in 2018, with the first phase only affecting local service buses, camera-controlled bus gates have been added to the area around Central Station.
There are plans to fully implement LEZs by 31 December 2022! With the main goal to eliminate parking in and around George Square completely and making it a public transport/cyclist only zone. A consultation took place in October 2019 that showed huge public support for increasing the number of pedestrianised and green spaces across the city.
Meanwhile, in Edinburgh there’s been quite a few wee green spaces, with plans for even more in the future! Edinburgh was the first city in the UK to join the Open Streets movement, meaning areas of the old town are closed off completely to traffic between 12:00 and 17:00 on the first Sunday of each month.
Huge changes are on the way in terms of pedestrianising large parts of the city centre in the next 10 years, with areas such as George Street becoming closed to vehicles by 2025. Cars in the city centre with petrol engines must meet Euro 4 standards (vehicles sold after Jan 2006) whilst cars with diesel engines must meet Euro 6 standards (vehicles sold after September 2015) by 2024 if they wish to operate in the LEZ.
Aberdeen is looking to follow Edinburgh’s lead, with plans to close certain sections of Union Street from 22:00 to 05:00, this hopes to make the centre safer and more welcoming for those out and about. There are plans to consult the public in early 2020 on the best place to enforce low emission zones –keep an eye out to get involved!
If you’re struggling to envision a city without cars, look no further than Pontevedra in Spain! This wee city pedestrianised the entire city centre, removed all street parking and moved it underground. As a result of this, CO2 emissions have fallen by a massive 70%, small businesses are thriving thanks to increased passing trade and there have been no deaths from traffic accidents since 2009!
What do you think? Would pedestrianisation of city centres such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen be feasible? Should LEZs be implemented into small towns?
For updates on emission zones and more information visit: https://www.lowemissionzones.scot