Amsterdam 2030

(2019-05) Amsterdam is a leader when it comes to plans for emission-free traffic; in 2030 no gasoline or diesel cars can enter the (inner) city anymore. The Dutch Environmental Protectancy association Milieudefensie has indicated that they are very happy with the plans. According to her, Amsterdam is the first municipality in the Netherlands that really decides to become an emission-free city. And because, according to Milieudefensie, 66 percent of people of Amsterdam only want emission-free traffic in the city center, there is a lot of support for the plan.

Unfortunately, the emission-free car does not exist, because of particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers (PM10) and 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) from tires. Research by TNO and Deltares commissioned by Rijkswaterstaat (2016) shows that a car emits around 5 mg PM10 and 1 mg PM2.5 per kilometer via the tires. In the city, those numbers will be higher due to frequent acceleration and deceleration. In addition, some PAKs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and heavy metals are released. In short, if a city really wants to be emission-free, all motorized traffic must be banned.

But the municipality’s zero-emission position is not there for nothing; the current euro 4, 5 and part of Euro 6 diesel cars, as well as directly injected petrol engines without a particulate filter (until 2017) are polluting. It is a position that can be defended at the local level that these cars will not be allowed to enter Amsterdam in the future, but will drive around “neatly” in Kiev or in Lagos, because diesels (especially the Mercedes) last quite a long time. That used to be good, because the concept of sustainability was more or less directly related to lifespan. Nowadays with a focus on the ecological footprint, a million kilometers with a car is not so useful anymore. Replacement and recycling is then less harmful to the environment.


In 2030, the current euro 4 and 5 cars will largely have disappeared from the Netherlands. Furthermore, the current Euro 6d TEMP diesel cars are pretty clean, at least when they are at operating temperature. And if Euro 7 presents itself in 2025/2026, cars will even be tested up to -7 degrees ambient temperature. The Euro 7 cars will live up to the promise of the Euro 6 cars without cheating opportunities. That means a maximum of 5 mg of fine dust from the exhaustpipe per kilometer, which is lower than the fine dust from the tires. Moreover, the maximum emission standards for gasoline and diesel cars are in all likelihood set equal. The NOx will also be lower than with Euro 6. In 2030 the residents of Amsterdam can also buy an electric Hyundai Kona of around ten years old with a large operating radius for little money.

However, with regard to the supply of new electric cars, there is an issue around the availability in 2025 and 2030. Reports are increasingly appearing that the demand will be greater than the supply in 2025, due to the expected shortage of batteries and materials and production capacity. Even the largest battery manufacturer in the world, CATL, indicates this. This could partially destroy the expected price falls for electric cars. In addition, the imposed CO2 standards in 2025 and 2030 give traditional car manufacturers the opportunity to produce quite a few relatively clean Euro 7 combustion engines, whether or not in a light hybrid form.


In short, the environmental problem (with the exception of tire wear and emissions from aircraft and ships) is more or less resolved by itself. Amsterdam is dependent on developments in the rest of the world, particularly from Asia. The statement “Amsterdam 2030 emission-free” is therefore primarily a test balloon that shows the current problems and fuels the discussion about environmental pollution. And that is very welcome.

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