Brussels LEZ tightening under discussion again

The French-speaking Brussels socialist party PS wants the ban on diesel vehicles with emission class Euro 5, which will apply from January 2025, to be postponed for two years. The socio-liberal DéFI also wants a review of the low-emission zone (LEZ) rules.

Energia, the former Belgian Petroleum Federation, in turn, wants the rules around the LEZ to take more account of technology reality. According to Energia, the latest diesel cars – standard Euro 6D, which has been in force since 2020 – meet the official air quality limits, so there is no reason to ban them.

Local measures instead of a general ban

According to Energia, access to the LEZ should be based solely on actual emission standards and not on the a priori exclusion of specific technologies such as diesel and petrol. In addition, the federation points out that particulate matter today comes mainly from brakes and tire wear and, thus, also from heavier EVs, which, however, are not covered by the LEZ ban.

“With a car fleet in Belgium averaging ten eras old, we can assume that with the new Euro6d standard, the lion’s share of cars will comply with air quality emissions limits by 2030,” the organization states. “Banning these cars is at odds with scientific reality. They have a place on our roads today and tomorrow. Stigmatizing the car has, therefore, become an ideological battle with no scientific basis,” it says.

Energia, therefore, advocates taking local measures, for example, in streets with a lot of stationary traffic, rather than introducing a general ban for the entire city. “That makes no sense and penalizes all motorists,” Energia claims.

Green won’t change course

The new Euro 7 standard, which will be in force in 2027 at the earliest and will be the strictest yet, lowers emission thresholds for heavy trucks and introduces limits on particulate emissions caused by brake and tire wear for the first time in Europe.

Mobility organization Touring also previously called for a moratorium on the Euro-5 ban. The Greens stick to the predetermined calendar, and Brussels Climate Transition Minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) argues that the region must continue on its current path if it wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Air quality in Brussels improved

Figures from 2022 show that greenhouse gas emissions in the Brussels region are down 27% compared to 2005. According to Maron, this downward trend is partly due to the policies implemented, especially regarding building renovation and mobility.

Again, air quality has improved significantly in Brussels. Last year, average nitrogen dioxide emissions dipped below the new directive the European Union plans to introduce by 2030 for the first time. Since 2018, when the Brussels Capital Region became an LEZ, nitrogen dioxide concentrations along main roads have fallen by 30%. The number of exceedances of particulate matter was also historically low.

In the top ten most polluted cities worldwide, Brussels ranks 3 615 with 9.8 µg/m3—the ranking records 7,812 cities. With this result, it scores better than Berlin and Paris but worse than Amsterdam and London. The EU has a target three-year average exposure concentration of 14 µg/m3.


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