This blog was written by Yiqian Zhang, Senior Officer, Sustainable Mobility at ICLEI World Secretariat.
Ninety-one percent of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution levels exceed the guideline limits of the World Health Organization. Every year, long-term exposure to ambient air pollution causes 4.2 million deaths, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases among other health issues. It is evident that air pollution disproportionately affects the most vulnerable and is felt strongest in disadvantaged neighborhoods where road traffic is intense. Conversely, they are the least likely to own cars themselves. In response to the looming air quality crisis, low emission zones (LEZs), i.e. where the most polluting vehicles are prohibited from traveling, have become a widespread policy instrument to improve air quality and protect public health.