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With a population of 1.6 million in the city and 4.5 million people in the metropolitan area, Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city. Additionally, Barcelona is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea. As millions of people visit the city every year, it is one of the most important tourist destinations in Europe. Barcelona has eleven metro lines, two modern tram networks and two cable cars. It is currently in the process of reorganising its bus system. In 2007, the city introduced the bike sharing system ‘Bicing’.

Overall Grade: D- 62%

Pie Chart 62
  • Graph Reduction Success Local Emissions
  • Graph Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters
  • Graph Public Procurement Clean Cars
  • Graph Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources
  • Graph Use of Economic Incentives
  • Graph Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split
  • Graph Promotion of Public Transport
  • Graph Promotion of Walking & Cycling
  • Graph Transparency & Communication Policy


Reduction Success Local Emissions

Barcelona’s PM10 levels seem to be below the EU limit values, even though, for example, the air quality measurement station Barcelona missed data for 2009 and 2010 and has only measured with a validity of above 80% since 2011. Overall, Barcelona measurement data appears rather unreliable. For NO2 there appears to be a slight reduction trend, however caution is advised and levels are still in breach of EU limits, at 60.7 µg/m3 in 2012.

With regard to sources, urban and regional traffic accounts for 48.2% of NOx and 61.6% of PM10 emissions. The second largest contributor is maritime operations with 29.5% of NOx and 18.5% of PM10, including Barcelona’s port. Industry is the third largest contributor with 13.4% and 17.9%. The smallest contributor is the residential sector with 8.9% and 1%, respectively. These figures were calculated in 2008.

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

The city of Barcelona does not have a Low Emission Zone. In the Ciutat Vella, the old city, there is a local traffic ban for non-residential vehicles at certain hours of the day. Also, for vehicles entering the area there is a speed limit of 10 km/h and a weight limit of 5.5 tonnes.

Public Procurement Clean Cars

The city of Barcelona does have a comprehensive strategy to modernise and clean up its bus fleet. In 2013, 38% of its bus fleet of 1,072 vehicles were natural gas buses and almost 40% (425) of its buses were retrofitted with an SCRT filter system. In 2010, 92% of the city’s cleaning and waste vehicles met at least Euro 5 standards or ran on natural gas. Only firefighting vehicles were behind, as 56% still failed to meet Euro 4 standards.

The city has development targets for its fleet, such as plans to increase the number of natural gas buses to 500 by 2018.

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

The city has developed a Green Construction Work plan with several measures including the use of special pavement, street sweeping and washing as well as the use of additives, some of which do not target emissions at the source but merely target concentration levels. Additionally, the city chose specifically to monitor the emissions from big construction projects. Retrofit programmes or particulate filter requirements were not developed at that time.

Barcelona’s port is an important source of pollutants. Consequently several measures have been introduced. There were improvements of port vehicles and machinery and requirements for the port truck fleet were set to at least Euro 4. Furthermore, an increased use of energy supply from land was envisaged. There were investments in LNG/CNG technology, either for power barges or for locomotives and trucks. Also there are ideas to change the pattern of port fees. By the end of 2015, 40% of internal vessels are planned to have completed a renewal programme. However, important for this evaluation, the port is not the responsibility of the city and therefore measures have not been graded as local AQ measures.

Use of Economic Incentives

Barcelona revised its parking policy in 2005 with the Green Area parking scheme. The reduction of parking supply in combination with parking fees developed to steer demand and other measures helped to reduce traffic by 13%. Recent information on parking management shows an increase of parking supply of almost 5,000 parking spaces between 2010 and 2013 and over 7,000 new parking spaces for motorcycles. On a positive note, the city is also considering imposing rates on downtown car parks, which can be applied depending on the pollutant emissions from vehicles that use them.

Other existing incentives are implemented by the region or the national government and are consequently not taken into account for the city. Also, the subsidies show tendencies to favour private transport over public transport.

There is no congestion charging system in Barcelona.

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

In the last few years the city has been very active in introducing speed limits of 30 km/h in residential streets, with an increase of 45.3% to about 440 km between 2010 and 2013. Only limited information was available on mobility management measures. In 2013, the city had a modal split of 39.3% public transport, 26.5% motorised private transport and 35% for walking and cycling. That represents a large share of public transport and walking while motorised transport plays a comparably small role in the city. Notably, there is a slow reduction trend away from the use of cars. While walking covers over 30% of the journeys, the share of cycling in 2010 was still lower than 1.4%. The city has targets for promoting public transport and sustainable transport, and for reducing motorised private transport well below 20%.

Promotion of Public Transport

Barcelona steadily advances its public transport system. The introduction of a new bus system initiated in 2012 is particularly noteworthy, as it includes priority lanes with individual bus lanes, which are more efficient and faster. In total, 28 new bus lines were established. Earlier, but with a long-term effect, Barcelona’s metro system was extended by two lines between 2008 and 2010, including a 16% increase in the length of the system. The increase in capacity of the public transport system matches the city’s commitment to increasing its share of the modal split.

A lot of promotion for public transport is undertaken through newspaper articles explaining the new system and through an informative website.

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

The city wants to increase the share of cycling in the coming years and continuously improves the infrastructure, including an increase in the number of bicycle lanes and bicycle parking spaces. Bike lanes were extended by 10 km to more than 100 km between 2010 and 2013. Still, cycling is the hobby of few in Barcelona, with a modal split share of a mere 1.7% in 2013 about a third of which journeys were done by ”Bicing”, Barcelona’s bike-sharing scheme. The system has 6,000 bikes and a growing network of stations.

With regard to walking, pedestrian zones are also constantly expanded. In 2013, 0.76 km² of the city was covered by pedestrian zones. Yet, there were no signs of a walking strategy.

Transparency & Communication Policy

The city provides information about air quality in a dedicated section on its website. There is relatively good background information and data research facilities, as well as information on legislation. However, the website is counterintuitive and not very well structured. A personal contact is not available; a general contact to the department is hidden. A second website on air quality offers an interactive map, but limited background information.

Barcelona also offers a citizen participation guide, called the Citizen Commitment to Sustainability 2012-2022.

More information:…

Response to Questionnaire

The City replied to the questionnaire.