1,000 Stockholmers die a year from air pollution. A Swedish ban on cars hopes to change that.
Sweden’s capital is banning petrol and diesel cars in its city centre to reduce pollution and slash emissions.
The new rules will come into force on 31 December 2024.
“In Stockholm, everyone should be able to breathe the air without getting sick,” traffic councillor and MP Lars Strömgren wrote on X – formerly Twitter. He goes on to envision a city with “outdoor seating and plenty of space for walking and cycling”.
This marks the first time the country has introduced such strict environmental rules for vehicles.
Where will combustion engine cars be banned in Stockholm?
The car ban covers 20 blocks in Stockholm’s city centre, including streets in the area within Kungsgatan, Birger Jarlsgatan, Hamngatan and Sveavägen.
These are areas where vehicles mostly make deliveries, according to Strömgren. By transitioning to electric vehicles, deliveries will not only be more sustainable but quieter – meaning they can be carried out around the clock, he added.
Once the ban comes into force at the end of 2024, only electric vehicles (EVs) and low emissions gas vehicles will be allowed to drive in the zone. Plug-in hybrid heavy goods vehicles will also be permitted.
Emergency vehicles and those with a disabled permit are not subject to the ban.
The 180,000-square-metre zone could be extended, pending discussions in early 2025.
It was initially set to be introduced in Gamla Stan – the city’s Old Town – too, but those plans have now been scrapped. Instead, the area will become a largely pedestrianised ‘urban environmental zone’, where 130 parking spaces will be removed to make space for walking and cycling, Swedish broadcaster SVT Nyheter reports.
Stockholm’s vision for a greener future
Sweden’s Green Party (Miljöpartiet) – part of the country’s ‘red-green’ coalition – has laid out plans for an emissions-free inner city in Stockholm by 2030.
This includes introducing environmental zones with vehicle controls in areas with poor quality, prohibiting cars in certain areas and on certain days, and reducing total car traffic by 30 per cent by 2030.
It states that 1,000 Stockholmers die prematurely each year due to air pollution – a figure it hopes to reduce with the new traffic measures.
Last year, Strömgren announced €2 billion in funding to improve pedestrian, bicycle and public transport infrastructure in Stockholm.