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Milan Introduces Trial Low-Emissions Zone Charge

The EcoPass zone is bounded by 43 gates equipped with electronic cameras. Click to enlarge.

The city of Milan, Italy has launched a one-year trial of EcoPass—a scheme of graduated emissions-based charges for entry into Milan’s Limited Traffic Zone (Zona a Traffico Limitato, ZTL).

The EcoPass charges of up to €10(US$14.70) per day are calculated based on the Euro emissions class of the vehicle, the fuel type, the presence of approved filters, and the type of transport (personal or goods).

In addition to the daily access EcoPass card, Milan is offering a multiple access card (50 days of access, not consecutive, with a reduced price) and an annual subscription card for residents of the ZTL.

The ZTL is bounded by 43 gates equipped with electronic camera which record the passage of the vehicles, and debit the card holder’s account appropriately.

EcoPass Classes and Charges
DailyMultiple, first 50Multiple, successive 50Annual resident
Class I Alt fuel (e.g., LPG, CNG, electric) Free Free Free Free
Class II Gasoline cars and trucks, Euro 3 and later; Diesel cars and trucks, Euro 4 and later Free Free Free Free
Class III Gasoline cars and trucks, Euro 1, 2 €2 €50 €60 €50
Class IV Gasoline cars and trucks, Euro 0; Diesel cars, Euro 1, 2, 3; Diesel trucks, Euro 3; Diesel Bus Euro 4, 5 €5 €125 €150 €125
Class V Diesel cars, Euro 0; Diesel trucks, Euro 0, 1, 2; Diesel Bus, Euro 0, 1, 2, 3 €10 €250 €300 €250

London, England is also planning a low-emissions zone in addition to its flat-rate congestion charge zone. (Earlier post.)

(A hat-tip to Bob!)



Love the environmental progress, worry about the surveillance.

Rafael Seidl

@ stomv -

how did you think London enforces its congestion charge? The alternative would be toll booths - possibly with personnel - at numerous locations. This would be even more intrusive.

Milan's action was prompted in part by a decade-old EU directive related to curbing PM10 levels in ambient air. The directive came into force in 2005 but cities all over the EU have been dragging their feet on implementing any corrective measures.

This year, after much hand-wringing, several German cities are introducing "environmental zones" that like Milan's systems are based on the EU emissions level a given vehicle was originally certified to. However, there are no plans to charge for access per se. As elsewhere, enforcement will likely involve video surveillance and software that can read number plates.

Ironically, improvements in diesel engine technology (esp. DPFs), home heating systems, industrial furnaces and agriculture have all contributed to a sharp fall in ambient PM10 levels in 2007. ADAC, a German automobile association, is already planning to sue against the zones on behalf of its members on the grounds that they will likely prove ineffective and/or unnecessary.

Note that most European city centers were built up before the automobile was even invented. Natural ventilation and congestion are chronic issues. The clean diesel technology developed for European HDVs and the US passenger car market may prove sufficient to address the NOx problem in the context of Euro 6 (due 2014). Unfortunately, auto manufacturers can do little to keep their customers from causing traffic jams.

Therefore, expect Milan, Berlin and others to follow in London's footsteps before long. Effective traffic management delivers higher air quality as a by-product.

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

London, Toronto, Singapore and Stockholm have done this, and now it's Milan's turn. I won't speculate on which city may be next, but I doubt very much Berlin is the next in line. To put things in context, about two months ago Angela Merkel blocked the EU proposal to bring the EU CO2 target down to 120 g CO2/km. This was because German cars have, and by a long shot, the worst CO2 averages in Europe. For the exact same reason, Germany is the only country in Europe not to have adopted a car tax based on CO2 emissions. So much so that the only thing some cities in Germany are doing is banning cars from the city center if they don't have a particle filter.
Surely there is a conflict of interests somewhere if its perfectly OK for a SUV which emits 368 g CO2/km into the city center simply because it has a particle filter, while banning cars with much lower emissions without a filter?

Rafael Seidl

@ Karl-Uwe Strunzen -

Berlin, Cologne and Hannover introduced environmental zones on January 1, 2008. Stuttgart, Munich and others will follow later in the year.

Note that the EU directive is related to ambient PM10, not CO2 emissions. Indeed, none of the forward-thinking cities you mention introduced city access tolls for the express purpose of reducing CO2 emissions - the objective was to ease congestion. Reduced emissions, both toxic and GHG, are a welcome fringe benefit of getting city centers moving again.

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

As mentioned above, there is also an EU directive on CO2 for cars. The EU will act on this directly with the manufacturers, and almost all states are taxing cars based on CO2 and it is logical that cities will base entry fees and permits on CO2 as well.

Vehicles with high CO2 emissions also have higher particle emissions. The highest CO2 emissions currently come from the German SUVs which also have the highest particle emissions. GHG and toxic emissions are related, as is the issue of congestion, given that these same SUVs are a real show-stopper for cities with congestion problems.

The sticker system is not comparable to the system in London, Milan or Stockholm. It is one that most countries have had for many years now and does not involve a higher fee for the more polluting vehicles, but rather a simple ban for only the most extreme polluters. Instead of displaying different coloured stickers some cities required a sticker which displays the euro emissions category, e.g. EURO4 (again, this is going back many years now).

Stan Peterson

If the Euro Greens would just stop trying to figure out ways to rip off the taxpayers and get off their duffs, and implement modern pollution rules for their vehicles, the problem would abate. But once again... It's all talk and no action, just like their Kyoto adherence and enforcement.

There is very little reason that EU 6 couldn't be moved up from 2015-2020 to say 2010-2011. All their manufacturers exporting to the US will have T2B5 diesels able to meet EU 6 in their sleep since the future EU 6 is four or five times as lax, than todays American T2B5. Ditto for their gasoline vehicles that must meet American SULEV or LEV II, today, and do so.

For that matter they could meet the next couple of EU generations of emissions regulations like hypothetical EU 7 and EU 8 that don't even exist. But might in 2030, or 2040. Their manufacturers make vehicles for the American marketplace today, that meet such advanced American emissions, that would constitute EU 7 and EU 8.


Surely there is a conflict of interests somewhere if its perfectly OK for a SUV which emits 368 g CO2/km into the city center simply because it has a particle filter, while banning cars with much lower emissions without a filter?

Not really. Particulates kill people, CO2 doesn't. This is not to say that GHGs are not a problem, but the problem they represent is much less immediate. Anyway, as Rafael states above, the original intent of the rules was about congestion.

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

I think the difference between the effects of GHG and toxic emissions, as the names suggest, is obvious.

Beyond the legal obligation tied to reducing CO2 emissions these those cars which emit high CO2 levels are also the highest emitters of toxic emissions, the biggest gas-guzzlers and the main cause of congestion. In my opinion it is way too simplistic to say lets just stick a filter on all cars and the problem will go away. Particle filters are an excellent idea but these efforts need to be coupled to cars which emit less CO2 in the first place:

Rafael Seidl

@ Karl-Uwe -

I admire your passion on the subject, but please note:

a) the EU directive on fleet average CO2 emissions is currently being drafted. The Commission presented a formal proposal before Christmas but it has not yet been approved by the EU parliament nor by the Council of Ministers, so it is not yet in effect. Indeed, I suspect the various lobbies, national politicians and NGOs will insist on changes before it does become law.

b) cars that emit less CO2 do not necessarily produce lower toxic emissions. Indeed, the measures required to meet ever-stricter toxic emissions standards almost invariably increase fuel consumption aka CO2 emissions by a small amount.

c) the net effect of the new environmental zones in selected German cities will be that those who own very old cars will replace them with newer ones before long, if they can afford to do so. A car you cannot reliably drive where you want to when you want to is not worth owning.

Similarly, the relatively high cost of getting into Milan with a polluting old car will eventually prod their owners to trade up to something more modern.

Neither of these measures will curb congestion in the long run. The proposed changes to London's congestion charge will also prompt owners to switch to different cars rather than to public transport or bicycles, once again aggravating the congestion the system was meant to tackle.

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

a) I think everyone is quite aware that the proposal is a proposal. I stress again that the 120 g proposal became a 130 g proposal and was also pushed back in time exclusively because of the German car-lobbyists. The final form of the EU directive is another matter.

b) Would you be so kind as to give some examples of cars which emit more CO2 but less toxic emissions?
Car model emissions data may be found on websites such as:

Unless we are talking about CNG cars (these are exempt in any case in London, Milan and Stockholm), CO2 and toxic emissions go hand-in-hand.

For example:

VW Touareg 5.0 TDI DPF, 12.6 l/100km combined:
(g/km) 333 CO2, NOx 0.336, HC+NOx 0.393, Particulates 0.003

Citroen C4 1.6 90CV HDi, 4.7 l/100km combined:
(g/km) 125 CO2, NOx 0.211, HC+NOx 0.236, Particulates 0.002

Fiat 500 1.3 Multijet, 4.2 l/100km combined:
(g/km) 110 CO2, NOx 0.124, HC+NOx 0.152, Particulates 0.001

c) I think it is quite inappropriate to guess what the future effects of measures in German cities will be. One should wait, at the very least, for some preliminary results before drawing conclusions. If I too were to venture a guess, I think the effect will be much weaker than this, just as the measures themselves are very weak.
This is not necessarily true for Milan, as we are talking about the same system used in London and Stockholm, which already have ample results from their experiences.

I disagree that congestion will not be curbed in the long run. A tier system, by its very nature, will have its scale adjusted as time goes by. What may be good today (e.g. Euro4) won't be good tomorrow and, as already stated, congestion is also linked to emissions. Take the extreme case of replacing all SUVs in Europe today with say a Citroen C1. Sure, the emissions (all emissions) would instantaneously go down, but congestion would also be improved as the low-emission vehicle is also a compact one.

Stan Peterson

The issue is much more than putting a particle filter on a vehicle. T2B5 diesel standards chop particulate emissions but they chop NOx emissions by 5 times more than EU6, down to the level of gasoline autos.

Pollution limiting is essentially accomplished by inducing complete combustion and/or combusting something other than Nitrogen or Sulfur. In essence to engineers, pollution limiting seeks to convert formation of pollutants to non polluting oxides like the dioxides of hydrogen and carbon.

So the ideal non polluting, combustion-based vehicle would emit H2O and CO2 and nothing else. Cleaner means more CO2, since CO2 is not a pollutant to Plants or Animals, except to the fevered imagination of AGW hysterics, or cynical tax raisers who see an opportunity.

Karl-Uwe Strunzen

There are working internal combustion vehicles, which are now well beyond the prototype stage, which produce relatively very little CO2 and negligible toxic emissions.

"Cleaner means more CO2" ? All the European car model data is available at
and cleaner ALWAYS means less CO2.

cynical tax raisers:
the London and Stockholm experiences are well documented now and the results, in terms of both emissions and congestion, are very positive indeed:
Charging zone Inner Ring Road
N2O PM10 CO2 N2O PM10 CO2
Overall traffic emissions change 2003 versus 2002 -13.4 -15.5 -16.4 -6.9 -6.8 -5.4
Overall traffic emissions change 2004 versus 2003 -5.2 -6.9 -0.9 -5.6 -6.3 -0.8

"TfL published a report reviewing the first six months of the charge. The report's main findings were that the average number of cars and delivery vehicles entering the central zone was 60,000 fewer than the previous year, representing a drop in non-exempt vehicles of 30%."

Another thing I am for is speed-limiting for cars, which is something which affects not only these issues but that of safety as well, and is being very much debated today in Europe.


NO NOx, litle CO2, without oil,

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