Traffic restrictions during pollution episodes due to NO2

When and where is traffic restricted?

As from 1 December 2017, temporary restrictions shall be activated in the event of an NO2 pollution episode and applied to the most polluting vehicles within the Low-Emission Zone Barcelona’s ring roads area: that zone will include Barcelona's municipal boundaries, with the exception of the Vallvidrera, Tibidabo i les Planes neighbourhood, the Zona Franca Industrial and several areas in Sant Adrià de Besòs, Hospitalet de Llobregat, Esplugues de Llobregat and Cornellà de Llobregat.

The restrictions will be in place from 7 am to 8 pm, working days, from Monday to Friday, for as long as the episode lasts. To ensure users have the means to travel around the city, public transport will be increased under extraordinary measures.

In the event that a suspended PM10 particle pollution episode is declared, no traffic restrictions will be activated nor mobility-related measures taken, however recommendations will be published on how to avoid the pollutant's harmful health effects.

What is a Low emission zone?

It is an area where the circulation of vehicles is restricted to protect both people and the environment from pollution generated by vehicles. Three areas are planned in the Barcelona conurbation where measures are applied that restrict travel for the most polluting vehicles: the Low-Emission Zone in Barcelona's ring road area (active since 1 December 2017), the Àmbit 40’s Low-Emissions Zone (made up of 40 municipalities) and the Metropolitan Area's Low Emissions Zone, planned for 2025 onwards.

How will I know whether a pollution episode has been activated?

Barcelona City Council provides information on preventative warnings and pollution episodes through the city’s information channels (website, social networks, mass media), free pollution alerts email service and free 010 telephone service.

During NO2 pollution episodes that involve increased public transport and restrictions on the most polluting vehicles, the City Council will, as a minimum, provide information to that effect by 3 pm on the same day that the pollution episode is declared, and the measures will come into force the following day, from 7 am to 8 pm, from Monday to Friday, for as long as the episode lasts. Information will also be given out in advance through messages on variable information panels located within the city and on city access roads; vertical signage will be installed on the city's ring-roads and in the surrounding area to inform drivers. The measures will be in force throughout the day until the end of the episode is announced.

The Generalitat de Catalunya, the AMB and TMB also provide information through their corporate channels.

Which vehicles will be affected by traffic restrictions in the LEZ Barcelona Ring-Road Area?

As from 1 December 2017, the measure will apply on NO2 pollution episode days, and will affect all cars that do not bear the DGT's environmental label (petrol-engine cars pre-Euro3 with pre-January 2000 licence plates and diesel-engine cars pre-Euro 4 with pre-January 2006 licence plates) and pre-Euro 1 vans (with pre-1 October 1994 licence plates).

As from 1 December 2018, on NO2 pollution episode, the restriction also applies to motorcycles and mopeds without DGT environmental label, pre- Euro 2, which corresponds mainly to those registered before 2003.

These temporary restrictions will gradually extend to all other vehicles without a DGT label and apply permanently, as from 2020, between 7 am and 8 pm on work days, from Monday to Friday.

Which vehicles are exempt?

These restrictions do not apply to the vehicles for people with reduced mobility, emergency services (police, fire fighters, ambulancse) and essential services (medical and funeral) are permanently exempt.

Euro 1, Euro 2 and Euro 3 vans, lorries, coaches and buses are exempted temporarily.

Until 30 November 2018, motorcycles and mopeds are exempt. From 1 December 2018, only motorcycles and mopeds with DGT label will be able to circulate (in case of NO2 pollution episode).

When will restrictions become permanent?

As from 1 January 2020, vehicles without a DGT label  will be banned from travelling on all work days, from Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 8 pm.

As from 1 January 2025, vehicles without a DGT label will be banned from travelling in the municipalities that make up the Metropolitan Area, at times yet to be determined.

Can I travel by motorcycle or mopeds?

All motorcycles or mopeds will be able to travel on days when a pollution episode has been declared, as they are currently exempt from travel restrictions within the Low-Emissions Zone Barcelona’s Ring-Road Area, until 30 November 2018.

From 1 December 2018 the motorcycles or mopeds without DGT label will not be able to circulate in pollution episode by NO2. These are motorcycles and mopeds prior to Euro 2 registered before 2003.

Can people with reduced mobility use their vehicles?

All vehicles for people with reduced mobility will always be able to travel within the Low Emission Zone Barcelona Ring-Road Area on days when an episode of pollution has been declared, irrespective of environmental labels: they are part of the permanent exemptions to mobility restrictions, as are the emergency services (police, fire fighters, ambulances) and essential services (medical, funeral).

Does the restriction include taxis and freelance workers’ vehicles?

Yes. The Authorities have announced their intention to increase financial aid to help with renovating and replacing taxis and commercial vehicles with hybrid, electric and gas models. The Barcelona Metropolitan Authority has announced that it will stop validating diesel-powered taxis from 2019 onwards.

Are lorries, collective-transport and goods vehicles, and special vehicles also affected by the restrictions?

Pre-Euro 1 vans will be banned from travelling on working days, Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 8 pm, when pollution episodes are declared, from 2017 until the Spring of 2018. The restriction will extend to all working days, from Monday to Friday, from 7 am to 8 pm, from 2020 onwards.

As for lorries, coaches, buses and Euro 1, Euro 2 and Euro 3 vans, these are not presently subject to any traffic restrictions in the event of a pollution episode. These exemptions will be reviewed throughout 2018.

Does the restriction affect vehicles in other Spain provinces? And the tourists' vehicles?

Yes. All vehicles travelling within the Low-Emissions Zone Barcelona Ring-Road Area are subject to the same restrictions irrespective of their place of registration, whether in any province of Spain or abroad.

Throughout winter 2017 cars and vans will be able travel within the Low-Emissions Zone Barcelona Ring-Road Area during an episode of NO2 pollution, where they comply with the equivalent Euro requirements in the various B, C, ECO and Zero environmental labels set by the DGT. That means restrictions on pre-Euro 3 petrol-engine cars, pre-Euro 4 diesel-engine cars and pre-Euro 1 vans regardless of fuel type.

From 1 December 2018 motorcycles and mopeds prior to Euro 2, which corresponds to light vehicles registered before 2003, will not be able to circulate during an episode of NO2 pollution.

How can I find out about the DGT's environmental label for my vehicle?

The Directorate General for Traffic has sent environmental labels to vehicle owners to categorise their vehicles’ environmental impact. You can check your vehicle’s DGT environmental label on the Air Quality website by entering your licence number. You can also consult this information on the DGT website.

It corresponds an environmental label to my vehicle but I do not have it. Where can I ask for it?

Vehicles registered in Spain owner's with an environmental label for B, C, ECO or 0 emissions and who do not have the corresponding identifying labels can obtain one from a Correos post office. You can also apply for it through your mechanical workshop, associated with the Gremi de Tallers de Reparació d' Automobils of Barcelona.

For further information visit the DGT website or call 060.

Are labels mandatory? Can I be fined for not displaying one?

There is no legal requirement for vehicles to have a label displayed, so you cannot be fined for not physically displaying a label, provided your vehicle is entitled to the DGT's environmental label. However, having the label displayed on your vehicle will help Barcelona's Guàrdia Urbana police officers to monitor traffic, in the event of an NO2 pollution episode. Drivers who travel without displaying a label may be stopped by Guàrdia Urbana officers within the Low-Emissions Zone Barcelona Ring Road Area. In such cases the officers will then check the vehicle's documents and licence plate to confirm whether it is subject to traffic restrictions. Traffic violations will lead to the corresponding fine, qualified as a minor offence.

Why does my vehicle not have a DGT label when it has passed the MOT?

Before they can be considered suitable for travel, vehicles have to exceed the European Union's current standardisation and registration regulations. These regulations establish, among other technical aspects, limits to the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere. Mandatory periodic MOT inspections check, among other things, that the emissions from each vehicle are adjusted to the originally approved limits, in other words, that there have been no changes since they left the factory.

The pollution-emission limits for new vehicles that are being standardised and registered in the European Union have undergone a spectacular reduction over the last few years, owing to anti-pollution technologies. So, when it comes to older vehicles, even though these older vehicles can easily pass the emission tests that are conducted in mandatory periodic MOT inspections, more permissive limits apply than those currently applied to newer vehicles, and therefore, they have potentially higher emissions.

How will we ensure banned vehicles are prevented from travelling?

Compliance with the regulations will be manually monitored by Barcelona’s Guàrdia Urbana officers, during an episode of atmospheric pollution. An automatic control system using cameras for reading vehicle licence plates at several (access and internal) points in the city will be deployed as from 2018. The automatic system will be fully operational by 2020.

What criterion is being used to impose travel restrictions?

Temporary restrictions and subsequent bans on travel and street-parking by the most polluting vehicles are part of the measures established by Barcelona City Council to promote the use of less polluting vehicles, and which are based on the vehicle-fleet categorisation made by the Directorate-General of Traffic under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s National Air Quality and Atmospheric Protection Plan for 2013-2016. The restrictions will be gradually applied to the most polluting vehicles.

Does street-parking charges change during a pollution event?

Yes. Regulated street-parking charges for non-residents in Blue Areas and Green Areas during an NO2 pollution episode will increase by two euros/hour, except in the case of Zero Emissions vehicles. More information

Extra public transport services during pollution episodes due to NO2

How will public transport services be increased on pollution events?

On days when there is a NO2 pollution event, extra public transport is provided in the Barcelona area, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.  

  • Metro: The TMB metro network will provide additional services during rush hour, with an extra train on each conventional line, and staff on hand to provide information and assistance at the busiest stations and at interchanges with other railway networks. The increase will mean that the entire network will see services calling every three minutes, as opposed to the normal average of three to four minutes. This extra service will form part of the structural increase in supply which is gradually being implemented in response to rising demand.
  • Bus: The routes with greatest demand will see an increase of 50 extra buses. On AMB metropolitan bus routes, 30 buses will be added during rush hour, 15 buses within Barcelona and another 15 in Barcelonès Nord. These extra services will basically operate during the morning and evening rush hours. Early in the morning, the extra services will focus on approaches to Barcelona, whereas during the evening rush hour, which is when people are leaving work, extra services will be focused on the main departure points of Barcelona.In the case of metropolitan buses operated directly by AMB, via TMB, starting in autumn 2017 a further 22 will be added to the fleet on workdays, with 21 new vehicles added from autumn 2018. On exprés.cat bus routes, operated by the Generalitat, extra services will add up to a further 25 buses serving Mataró, la Vall del Tenes, Caldes de Montbui, Sentmenat, Vic, Sabadell, Igualada, Esparreguera, Corbera de Llobregat, Vallirana and Sant Pere de Ribes.
  • Tram: Improvement in the frequency of tram services. The common core as a whole will see services calling at four-minute intervals between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on event days, compared to the usual five-minute intervals. Capacity will be increased with the addition of two double units on lines T1 and T4, with a general service increase on lines T5 and T6 during off-peak hoursdels intervals de pas del tramvia.
  • Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC): The service will be increased on the Vallès and Llobregat – Anoia Lines during off-peak hours. Frequency will be increased on the Llobregat –Anoia line throughout the day, as will the Sant Cugat del Vallès – Barcelona bus.
  • Rodalies de Catalunya: Extension of rush hour until 11:00 a.m. on lines R1 and R4. The analysis for the remainder of routes concludes that there is currently more than sufficient capacity on the remaining lines to serve an increase in demand.

What are T-Air Card and Green Metropolitan Card?

In order to achieve a more habitable and healthy urban model, in which the most high polluting and harmful modes of transport are abandoned in favour of new, more sustainable mobility habits, the Barcelona's City Council and competent authorities are offering new public transport cards:

T-Air Card: This is an integrated multi-person 2-journey ticket for use on the same day it is validated, and which is only valid on days when an episode of environmental NO2 pollution has been declared. T-Aire tickets will be available within the Barcelona Area's 6 travel zones and the time allowed for inter-changes will be the same as with any other integrated transport card: 1 hour and 15 minutes for zone 1, with an extra 15 minutes added for each additional zone. The price is equivalent to 2 T-10 journeys with a 10% discount applied. T-Aire tickets will be available in the public transport operators' ticket machines (TMB, FGC, Rodalies de Catalunya and Tram) on pollution episode days. Sales will be activated as soon as the Catalan regional government’s Directorate-General for Environmental Quality declares an episode of environment pollution and deactivated when the end of the episode has been declared. Click this link for further information

Green Metropolitan Car: A transport ticket that gives its holder three years of Metropolitan Transport Area public transport travel free of charge, in exchange for scrapping a highly polluting vehicle. This is a free public transport pass for the entire integrated metropolitan area (six zones). It will be managed through the AMB Information service within the area’s 36 metropolitan municipalities. The Catalan regional government will extend it to the other municipalities under the T-Verda name. 
People who decommission and scrap a polluting vehicle and refrain from acquiring a new one during the three-year period will have the benefit of a Verda Metropolitana ticket. Beneficiaries must prove that they are of legal age, are a registered Barcelona resident living within the Metropolitan Transport Area and have given away a vehicle they own, whose tax on mechanically powered vehicles (IVTM) they pay for within one of the integrated municipalities. The ticket must be renewed annually. Ticket holders can grant the use of their ticket for a single occasion to a substitute beneficiary, and the latter can be any member of their family unit. Tickets will be issued and renewed at no cost at customer-assistance centres established by the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) for residents of the 36 metropolitan municipalities and by the Association of Municipalities with Urban Transport (AMTU) for the rest of the AMB area. Vehicles given up for scrap can be collected up to six months before applications are made to process T-Verda tickets. Vehicles that fall under this option include:

  • Diesel-engine cars registered before 2006
  • Petrol-engine cars registered before 2000
  • Motorcycles registered before 1-7-2004
  • Mopeds registered before 17-6-2002

Click this link for further information.

More sustainable mobility: Help with buying low-emission vehicles; discounts on taxes, tolls and other mobility-linked fees; support for fleets.

Discounts on mechanically powered vehicle tax (IVTM) of up to 75%
Free regulated parking on roads (Green Area) and free charging at electric vehicle charging stations
Incentives to buy alternative energy vehicles aimed at the transport sector (taxi, goods transport) and for private use
Registration tax (vehicles for people with disabilities, vehicles with over 9 places, among others)
Discounts in tolls along the Generalitat's highways (free or with 30% discounts)
Access to Bus-VAO lanes

What advantages does the public transport network offer me?

Travelling on public transport prevents unnecessary traffic jams, provides you with more time for reading, chatting or listening to music in a relaxed way and saves you money.

Barcelona has an extensive network that includes buses, metro lines, trams, railways and trains. There are over 2,513 public transport stops distributed throughout the territory to enable people to make their daily journeys. The network is undergoing continuous improvements to make it a more efficient service, with more connectivity and improved intermodality between the various modes of transport. Barcelona is working to ensure that, by 2018, 95% of the population will have a high-performance bus service within 300 metres of their home. The metro network has 8 lines, 156 stations and over 140 trains in operation during every workday rush hour.

What can I do if I only have the option of using a private vehicle on my journeys?

If the only option you have is to travel in a private vehicle, consider the possibility of sharing the least polluting car possible with other people who take the same route as you: you’ll be reducing polluting emissions and your journey will be all the more pleasant and economic. Combine it with public transport whenever you can.

The public transport network in Barcelona and its metropolitan area undergoes continuous improvements to respond to the population's needs. To learn about the possibilities for travelling on public transport visit the websites Getting there  (Barcelona City Council's website) Where to go? (Metropolitan area's website) website or the Generalitat of Catalonia’s Get about Catalonia on Public Transport.

What can I do to reduce pollution?

Travel by foot, bicycle or non-motorised transport whenever you can: not just for the benefits this has on your health, but for the whole city too, as it means one less vehicle causing atmospheric pollution, noise and traffic jams.

If you walk or cycle during rush hours, look for alternative routes where there is less traffic: that will cut down on the time your route takes and give you cleaner air to breathe.

Use public transport rather than your private car or share a less polluting car with other users who take the same route as you.

What a pollution episode is and how to prevent one

What is an air pollution episode?

An air pollution episode occurs when levels of atmospheric pollutants exceed the threshold values established by the European Union (EU) and become harmful to people's health. It can occur as many as three times a year in Barcelona, especially when it comes to suspended PM10 particles (80 µg/m³ or 50 µg/m³ for more than 3 consecutive days) and nitrogen dioxide NO2 (200 µg/m³ or more)

The Generalitat of Catalonia may declare alert for high environmental pollution in two phases, "Preventive warning or" Environmental pollution episode ", depending on concentration level of contaminants and according to the pollutant: PM10 and NO2. Alerts with both pollutants at the same time may occur.

Health and mobility advice in pollution episodes

Barcelona City Council offers recommendations to the general public in the event of pollution.

The entire population are advised to:

  • Travel around on foot or by bicycle and make the most of streets with less traffic.
  • Opt for public transport instead of private transport.
  • If your only option is to use a private vehicle, share it or combine its use with public transport
  • Adjust their air-conditioning in the office and at home, to avoid excessive heating or cooling and to open windows for ventilation when there is less traffic on the street.
  • Start and stop their vehicles gently and have their tyre pressure properly adjusted, to reduce the emission of polluting particles.
  • Cut down on intense physical activity outside during a PM10 episode.

The more vulnerable members of the population (such as people with respiratory or cardiac illnesses, pre-school children, senior citizens and pregnant women) are advised to:

  • Cut down on intense physical activity, especially outdoors, in the event of an early PM10 warning or NO2 episode.
  • Avoid intense physical exercise, especially outdoors, in the event of a PM10 episode.

Measures implemented according to pollution episodes

The City Council deploys a municipal action protocol which provides for a series of measures adapted to each case, in every scenario declared by the Catalan regional government. Only an NO2 pollution episode activates extraordinary additional public transport (T-Aire, etc.,), traffic restrictions in the Barcelona Ring-Road Area's Low-Emissions Zone and increased street-parking tariffs in Green Zones for non-resident vehicles. Measures that are implemented during each pollution episode (according to degree and pollutant) are:

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)

Early warning

- Public communications through internal and external channels.

- Activating awareness-raising campaigns.


- Public communications through internal and external channels.

- Increasing public transport using all the available resources.

- Increasing regulated street-parking tariffs.

- Allowing only the least polluting vehicles to travel (within the Barcelona Ring-Road Area's Low-Emissions Area).

- Activating awareness-raising campaigns.

Suspended particles (PM10)

 Early warning

- Public communications through internal and external channels.

- Initiatives on municipal services and public works: spraying parks and unpaved squares with ground water and extra road spraying with ground water.

- Banning the use of blowers in cleaning and greenery work.

- Tighter control in compliance with the Public Works Greening Plan.

- Activating awareness-raising campaigns.


- Public communications through internal and external channels.

- Initiatives on municipal services and public works: spraying parks and unpaved squares with ground water and extra road spraying with ground water.

- Banning the use of blowers in cleaning and greenery work.

- Banning dust-producing activities in public works.

- Activating awareness-raising campaigns.



Do extraordinary measures for pollution episodes solve the problem?

In the long term, the presence of effective structural measures will do away with the need for extraordinary measures, as it will reduce or even eliminate the pollution spikes that lead to declarations of pollution episodes. Current measures have a twofold goal: reducing the number of vehicles on the road and making these vehicles less polluting, to the benefit of the entire population These are measures that discourage the use of cars and encourage the use of public transport.

Is diesel the highest polluting fuel?

Back in the 1990s, the European strategy for reducing greenhouse gases (above all, CO2) opted for more efficient, lower-consumption vehicles. As a result, diesel engine vehicles were the most widely sold by the end of the 1990s. While it is true that vehicles which run off diesel emit less CO2 than vehicles which use petrol, diesel engines emit higher quantities of other, more harmful components, such as suspended particles (PM2,5 and PM10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). According to the Generalitat's calculations, a gas-fuelled car dating back to before the Euro 1 regulations (over 20 years old) emits 58 times more NO2 than a new gas-fuelled car. Withdrawing from circulation a diesel vehicle that is more than 20 years old would be the equivalent of removing 35 modern vehicles.

Measures discriminates people with fewer resources?

No. Restricting the use of high-polluting vehicles has a greater impact on people with higher incomes, as they have more vehicles and tend to be more dependent on private vehicles. A survey on work-day mobility from 2016 shows that households in lower-income neighbourhoods have fewer cars (even old ones) and use their car or motorcycle less than those in neighbourhoods with higher incomes that have more cars (even old ones) and use their car or motorcycle more for getting around the city.

The air pollution

Is Barcelona's air very polluted?

Barcelona registers high levels of pollution (especially suspended PM10 particles and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), mainly emitted by vehicles) which exceed those recommended by WHO and which are harmful to the population's health. 98% and 68% of the population, respectively, may be exposed to levels of PM10 and NO2 above those recommended by WHO.

Every year the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB) issues an evaluation report on the quality of Barcelona’s air. In 2016 this report established that Barcelona, according to an analysis made of the atmospheric levels of the main pollutants collected at eleven stations on the Atmospheric Pollution Vigilance Network, five pollutants exceeded the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in annual averages. The pollutants concerned were NO2 gas, suspended particles (PM10 and PM2.5), benzene, ozone and benzo[a]pyrene recorded at traffic stations (with higher vehicle-traffic intensity), and at urban fountain stations (with lower vehicle-traffic intensity) in the case of suspended particles and ozone.

What are the main air pollutants?

Suspended particles (PM5 and PM10) are generated by hydrocarbon and biomass combustion, although they also come from dust caused by construction and demolition work, abrasion between tyres and road surfaces, vehicle brakes and natural sources (Saharan dust clouds). The other main pollutant is nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The main source of emissions comes from vehicle traffic. Other pollutants are present in Barcelona, although their levels do not usually exceed their public-health safety limits: tropospheric ozone (O3), sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

What causes air pollution?

The main source for this high level of pollution is vehicle traffic, combustion, building work and other dust-producing activities, the industrial sector and the Port. There are occasional peaks in air pollution, but the daily levels of suspended (PM10) particles and nitrogen dioxides (NO2) in the city are too high, subjecting the population to harmful air pollution every day.

60% of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) comes from traffic, 13% from outside the municipality, 8.3% from the industrial sector, 7.6% from the Port's emissions and 11.1% from other sources (heaters, combustion, etc.) Source: Barcelona Air-Quality Improvement Plan. Barcelona City Council.

As for suspended particles (PM10), 71% is generated outside the municipality, 21% comes from traffic and the remaining 8% from other sectors (heaters and combustion), building work and the Port. Source: Barcelona Air-Quality Improvement Plan. Barcelona City Council.

How does pollution affect our health?

It is one of the European Union’s main public health problems, causing 300,000 premature deaths every year. A reduction in pollution levels in the Barcelona conurbation, down to the thresholds recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) would prevent 659 premature deaths in the city every year and increase the life expectancy of the public by 52 days.

Polluted air affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It also affects the immune and endocrine systems and our fertility, contributes to the appearance of asthma, slows down the development of the brain in children and generally lowers our quality of life and life expectancy.

Does pollution affect us all in the same way?

There are some sections of the population who are especially vulnerable to the effects of pollution: children under the age of six, elderly people, adults with coronary or respiratory problems and pregnant women. These collectives are the main users of public transport, the ones who pollute the least but who are affected the most by pollution from high-polluting private vehicles .



How is air pollution measured in Barcelona?

The City Council has an analysis centre which is used to detect the presence of air pollutants, the Environmental Health Department at the Barcelona Public Health Agency, which monitors a number of stations integrated into the Catalan Atmospheric Pollution Monitoring and Forecasting Network (XVPCA). The Barcelona Public Health Agency produces annual reports on how the levels of these pollutants change over time.

Where can I find out about pollution in my city?

The Air Quality website features a map of the city with recorded levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and suspended (PM10) particles at the eleven stations in Barcelona integrated into the Air Quality Monitoring and Forecasting Network (XVPCA). It also provides air-quality “next day” and “day-after-next” forecasts for these pollutants. What is more, it also provides information on the main pollutants on municipal websites and social networks (Twitter @BCN_Ecologia).

All the data gathered by the Catalan Air Pollution Monitoring and Forecasting Network (XVPCA) based on automated and manual equipment located all around Catalonia are available on the Catalan regional government’s website address.

For further information, visit the Barcelona City Council's Environmental Education Documentation Service where staff will help you to find the material that interests you most. You will find resources for schools for conducting research on air pollution, material for associations and groups and documents for individual use.

How is air pollution combated in Barcelona?

The City Council gave its approval in November 2016 to the government measure entitled the Barcelona Programme of Measures against Atmospheric Pollution. The programme includes 58 structural and extraordinary initiatives for combating high-level pollution in both environmental and permanent episodes. Barcelona City Council also has an Urban Mobility Plan for safe, sustainable, fair and efficient mobility and a Barcelona Air Quality Improvement Plan for 2015-2018.

Mobility free of fumes for better air quality is one of its cornerstones. That is why, as from 1 December 2017, an episode of NO2 pollution will trigger the activation of the Barcelona Ring-Road Area's Low-Emissions Zone.  This restriction will gradually and temporarily affect the most polluting vehicles only on days when an environmental episode has been declared, until 2020, after which it will permanently affect all the most polluting vehicles.

Measures for a more sustainable mobility will also be activated in conjunction with the vehicle restrictions. Thus, there will be increased and extended public transport, and the cycle-lane network will be extended, among other things. Work will be carried out throughout the city’s urban stretch to advance towards a healthy and sustainable urban model with local green spaces. Actions will also be carried out in the sphere of energy saving (in municipal buildings and facilities, new housing blocks — solar panels, cool-heating systems, etc.,) and in greening the municipal fleets (cleaning services, gardening, etc.) Initiatives are also planned to provide environmental improvements in the realm of industry.

Do other European cities have the same problem with pollution? How are they dealing with it?

Big population centres in Europe, such as London, Paris, Milan and Rotterdam, have a huge amount of traffic and therefore high levels of atmospheric pollution. As in Barcelona, most of these big cities have started to design various strategies for cleaning their air, and most of these measures involve traffic reductions.

Over two hundred cities from all over Europe have already marked out low-emission zones, with restricted access for the most polluting vehicles. Several cities in Germany and Great Britain, for instance, control the entry of vehicles through a system of coloured stickers that identify their pollution levels.