Ultra Low Emission Zones – the new direction for European cities?

Polish cities have been struggling with smog and air pollution for decades. Yet to varying degrees, the whole continent is experiencing the same problem. Will the Ultra Low Emission Zones that are emerging in European cities contribute to solving this challenge? How will they affect the courier industry?

Clean transport zones in Europe

In 2022, there were 320 clean transport zones in European cities, with access restricted to vehicles that meet strict emission standards. Germany and Italy are leading the way in introducing these measures. It is estimated that by 2025 there will be more than 500 such zones across the continent1. Is this an effective solution?

Tangible results can be seen in London, which has both low and ultra-low emission zones. Nitrogen oxide concentrations in the city fell by 44% in the few years after the new law was introduced. There has also been a reduction in levels of PM2.5 – a pollutant that damages the respiratory system. As a result, some parts of the city now meet WHO standards.

Ultra Low Emission Zones and challenges for courier companies

Kraków and Warsaw are among the cities planning to introduce similar solutions. What will be the impact of Ultra Low Emission Zones on the courier industry? Analysing the experiences of other European cities, the authors of the report “Last Mile Transformation. Zero emissions in city logistics2, published by the Electric Vehicles Promotion Foundation (FPPE), came to a number of conclusions:

  • Last-mile logistics is the most difficult and costly challenge for courier companies, and the growth of the e-commerce industry will exacerbate existing problems.
  • Zero-emission transport in city centres reduces delivery time.
  • Despite the initial cost of replacing fleets with, for example, electric vehicles, low-carbon last-mile logistics will result in lower costs in the long run.
  • Low and ultra-low emission zones are driving the logistics industry towards zero emission technologies.