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Graz is the capital of the federal state of Styria and with a population of 276,000 the second largest city in Austria. It is located in the south-east of the country. Graz is an important economic centre and a university city. It is located in the Alps in a basin-shaped valley, so its meteorological conditions are very unfavourable for the concentration of pollutants.

The city’s dense public transport system consists of trams, buses and city trains (S-Bahn). The city has Europe’s largest pedestrian zone and has been active in promoting public transport as well as cycling and walking, in particular in recent years. However, the share of private motorised transport is still very high and continues to be a major source of air pollution.

Overall Grade: D+ 69%

Pie Chart 69
  • 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

After a strong reduction in annual PM10 exceedance days from 117 to 54 between 2005 and 2009, the traffic station Graz Don Bosco achieved a further decrease to 50 exceedance days by 2012. An intermediate high of 75 days was recorded in 2011. Accordingly, the annual mean value for PM10 decreased from 34.3 µg/m³ to 33.1 µg/m³, with an intermediate high of 40.3 µg/m³. At the same time, exceedance days at the background station Graz Süd decreased from 45 to 35. Again, an intermediate high of 71 exceedance days was recorded for 2011.

Graz has problems complying with EU limits for the NO2 annual mean value: the traffic station Don Bosco has not shown a reduction trend, but has fluctuated between 51.3 and 47.2 µg/m³ since 2008. Graz also monitors high NO2 annual mean values for the background station of about 33 µg/m³ on average. This is due to the geographical location. Graz generally has a difficult task, as it is hard for air pollution to escape from the basin-shaped valley.

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

The City of Graz does not operate a Low Emission Zone (LEZ), because 70% voted against it in a local referendum in 2012. Nevertheless, a regional LEZ for lorries has been operating in Graz for several years, actually obliging them to comply with Euro III emission standards since 2014.

Public Procurement Clean Cars

The city provided limited information. The vehicle of the city and the local energy supplier will be gradually transformed into e-mobile vehicles as the city is investing heavily in an e-mobility programme. About 38% of buses are Euro V or Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicles (EEV).

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

Emission regulations regarding non-road mobile machinery require national legislation. Such legislation has been in place since 2011 and became legally binding in 2013. Called the Offroad-Verordnung (ordinance), this implements a incremental tightening of emission requirements for mobile machinery above 18kW between 2013 and 2019. Depending on the power of the machinery, specific Euro standards will be compulsory. Finally in 2019, Euro IIIa or higher will be compulsory for all machinery in order to have access to cities. New machinery purchases need to meet diesel Euro IIIb standards as the minimum requirement.

National legislation for mobile machinery (Ger.):

Use of Economic Incentives

The city operates a parking management scheme with 14,400 short-term parking spaces and 11,800 spaces in green parking zones (2012). Between 2008 and 2013, more than 6,000 parking spaces were created. Parking privileges for low-emission vehicles were changed in 2013 because advancing technology brought too many vehicles below the agreed threshold.” Electric and plugin-hybrid vehicles continue to be exempt from parking fees.

The city offers a range of subsidies for cleaner vehicles. For example, there is a subsidy for taxi or social companies who buy new electric, hybrid and gas vehicles. Furthermore, the city will subsidise investments into parking facilities for bikes until the end of 2015.

Graz is currently developing a new comprehensive mobility strategy with measures in effect until 2020. At the moment, however, the city is not communicating any details of this scheme, instead focusing on general principles such as sustainability and integrated mobility.

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

In 2013, Graz had a modal split of 46.8% motorised individual transport, 19.8% public transport, 14.5% cycling and 18.9% walking. By 2021, the city aims to reduce the share of cars to 37%, to increase the share of public transport to 24%, of cycling to 20% and to stabilise the share of walking at 19%.

The city has had the “30/50” speed limit model since 1992 with 50km/h on main roads (of which there are about 200km) and 30km/h on all non-main roads (about 800km). There have also been speed limits on the Autobahnen since 2008 depending on the emission situation. Graz has a relatively good public transport system with six tram lines and 37 bus lines.

In the framework of the project Graz steigt um (Graz is switching), the city was awarded the Austrian Climate protection award 2012.

Promotion of Public Transport

The city plans to continuously increase the share of people travelling by public transport. Measures already undertaken are an increase in frequency and capacity of buses and trams, a reorganisation of the bus network and optimisation of stations. Furthermore, a new particulate matter ticket for inhabitants was introduced: car owners and their passengers pay €19 per person and choose any one day on which they can use all public transport in the metropolitan area from November to March.

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

Graz has a comprehensive strategy for promoting soft mobility modes through investments in cycling infrastructure and information campaigns. The city’s cycling network is composed of 123 km of cycle lanes, in addition to 800 km of bike-friendly 30 km/h zones. There are several permanent counting metres all over the city that monitor the use of bicycles. Furthermore, there is a monthly cycling event called Grazer CityRadeln (“Graz Residents’ City Bike Ride”).

Graz has the worldwide largest contiguous pedestrian area (6% of the inner city) and privileges pedestrians at traffic lights.

Transparency & Communication Policy

The city of Graz provides a website on air quality with some background information on air quality, legislation and current values of pollutants at all monitoring stations in the city. There is a particulate matter traffic light to give citizens an easy overview of current air quality in the city. A direct and personal contact to the city’s air pollution department is provided. Some information on the city website is linked to the Styria region’s website on air pollution. The latter provides live information on air quality and comprehensive background information on air pollutants. Long-term data time series can be downloaded from an extensive database called LUIS. Direct contacts are provided.

Participation possibilities for the civil society are actively promoted through the city’s dialogue platform called Time for Graz within the “Office for Citizens’ Participation”. Additionally, there is an independent platform called More time for Graz.

City website on air quality (Ger.):

Styrian website on air quality (Ger.):

Response to Questionnaire

The city replied to the questionnaire.