Poor air quality in Copenhagen

Researchers suggest introducing ‘clean-air zones’ to Copenhagen to improve the steadily worsening air quality

A new report has warned that unless the government acts soon, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and small particulates in Copenhagen’s air will rise to dangerous levels and lead to increased levels of respiratory illness.

“If there are no new initiatives, the EU’s threshold will be exceeded on at least seven roads by 2015,” Solvang Jensen, a researcher and author of the report that was published by the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy (DCE) at Aarhus University, told Politiken newspaper.

The report arrives shortly after the environment minister Ida Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti) abandoned new initiatives to improve air quality in Danish cities.

According to Politiken, the reason she gave is that “the latest figures show that we will not, after all, have excessive levels of NO2 in 2015 in Copenhagen.”

Politiken challenged this view, arguing that the location where the government measures air quality in Copenhagen, on H.C. Andersen’s Boulevard between Tivoli and City Hall, is actually only the eighth-most polluted stretch of road in the city.

Auken argued that the government dropped introducing stricter air quality legislation in order to wait for the publication of results from a congestion committee, which are due in three months' time.

The congestion committee was established as a compromise after the government earlier this year abandoned introducing a congestion charge for the city. The commission’s job is to examine other methods of reducing city traffic.

“We need cleaner air in the city and we will make a proposal. But we will only do that once we have seen the congestion committee’s catalogue of proposals. It will be published in January, so instead of tackling the same thing twice, we will tackle it all at once. We have waited ten years so we can wait another three months.”

The DCE recommends introducing ‘clean-air zones’ in the city where older petrol and diesel vehicles that do not conform to particular standards will be banned.