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Capital of the Netherlands

Amsterdam is the largest city in the Netherlands with 810,000 inhabitants and a metropolitan population of almost 2.4 million people. The city is the official, cultural and financial centre of the country. It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and ranks as one of the most attractive business locations.

Amsterdam has metro lines, a tram and a bus system as well as inland waterways making up part of the public transport system. The city is densely populated and with its high share of biking it also is one of the cycling champions of Europe.

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

Amsterdam has an air pollution problem and the progress in reduction needs to continue. However, EU limit values have almost been reached. Especially for PM10, Amsterdam has consistently remained below the limit values in recent years. Interestingly, at the measurement station Prins Bernhardplein the annual PM10 increased between 2008 and 2011, as did the number of exceedance days. For NO2, compliance is almost complete. There was a minor reduction trend in Prins Berhardplein (NO2 annual mean) to 40.3µg/m³ in 2011.

Low Emission Zones & Bans of High Emitters

The city has a low emission zone (LEZ) only for commercial and heavy goods vehicles, which was defined in 2008. Only Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) that meet the Euro IV or Euro V standards and retrofitted Euro III less than 8 years old are allowed in the zone. Fines are rather steep at €230. Vehicles are automatically scanned and thus enforcement is close to 100%. Nevertheless, there are some exemptions and short-term permits with daily fees.

The city believes an LEZ for passenger cars would arouse too much aversion. Also, the city did not tighten up the LEZ because it thinks that this would not be cost-efficient. In comparison, the city of Utrecht introduced an LEZ also for cars in January 2015. Amsterdam has plans to step up with vans older than 15 years (Euro 2) by 2017. That is very late compared to other cities in Europe and also in the Netherlands.

Public Procurement Clean Cars

At 44.7%, a large part of the municipal fleet is either Euro 5 or electric vehicles. Additionally, 37.9% are Euro 4. Only 17.5% were either Euro 3 or Euro 2. This means that a relatively small share of the vehicles are not yet clean, in spite of the city’s clean municipal fleet target for 2015. The municipality has recently decided to cancel the financial stimulation for cleaning the municipal fleet, as retrofitting the remaining vehicles retrofit or substitution would not be cost-effective.

For the bus fleet, no current information was retrieved, but for a long time already, new buses have been required to comply with best-available technology, suggesting a high share of Euro 5 & 6 or other low emission vehicles.

Non-Road Mobile Emission Sources

There was almost no information in the returned questionnaire. Nor could other information could be retrieved on measures beyond what the city had been doing already. There was a mention of measures to replace generators with electric hubs and plans to foster procurement of cleaner non-road machinery. However, no further information could be retrieved. Also, there is no information on measures for inland navigation or passenger ships, despite an obvious need.

Use of Economic Incentives

Amsterdam has extensive parking management, with different goals including accessibility as well as improving public space and air quality. Amsterdam plans focus on reducing the number of cars parked on the streets, also they have increased payed parking from 117400 in 2008 to 129029 in 2012. And at the same time about 5000 new parking spaces are planned be created in the following years. The license for citizens costs 21€ per month and otherwise 5 euro per hour. The city decided not to raise parking charges any more. Parking licenses will be permitted to the most polluting cars (Diesel older than 2005, gasoline older than 1992). The city also plans more attention to dual use available space, P&R and digitization. Other economic measures include e-mobility subsidies like a purchase subsidy for vehicles or a 1000€ for charging points.

Amsterdam hasn’t implemented a congestion charge, even though they wanted to do this. However missing national regulation made this legally impossible. Nevertheless, the city has implemented other measures to reduce car-traffic in the city and has reduced car traffic by 25% since the mid-1990s.

Traffic & Mobility Management Incl. Modal Split

The city offers several mobility management instruments. They have park & ride strategies, conduct dialogues with businesses and other stakeholders and provide traveller information tools. Mobile and social applications are mostly developed by private actors. The municipality does not offer car-pooling programmes. No new facilities for vulnerable groups are to be built within a range of 300 m of a highway or 50 m of a provincial road (though it is possible to deviate from these rules).

Speed limits are set to 30 km/h in residential areas, where all traffic is mixed on one line. Overall, there is a speed limit of 30 km/h on 90% of the roads.

The city states that 32% of traffic movement in the city is by bicycle compared to 22% by car and 16% by public transport. In the city centre, 48% of traffic movement is by bicycle. The city does not set future modal split targets. It is however expected that there will be a continuing move towards sustainable transport, with increasing bicycle use and decreasing car traffic.

Promotion of Public Transport

The Amsterdam public transport system is well developed and relies on buses, trams, ferries and a metro network. The municipality has stated that it will carefully develop its system as long as measures are cost-efficient. There are plans to increase the speed of trams on important routes and plans to improve the train service. The city is restructuring their network step by step. For example, they are abolishing the underutilized A-tramline and substituting it with other existing lines. Also, as a consequence of the new North-South metro line scheduled to be finished in 2017, the municipality expects that the number of bus lines will be reduced.

Promotion of Walking & Cycling

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s cycling capitals and in the inner city and adjacent areas 50% of all trips are made by bicycle. To cope with an increase in cycling a “Meerjarenplan Fiets 2012-2016” (several year bicycle plan) has been adopted, funded with €57 million, in order to remove urgent deficits, for example in the number of parking racks, or the safety and capacity of the existing infrastructure. 38,000 parking spaces will be created and the most important 15 kilometres of the cycling routes will be improved, rather than creating more bike lanes. In the long run, before 2020 another 38,000 bicycle racks are planned. In comparison, estimates show that another 80,000 are probably needed. There is no bicycle sharing programme (75% of all inhabitants have a bicycle), but there is a service called Public Transport Bicycle for visitors (with about 500 bicycles, not provided by the municipality). With regard to walking, the city has a pedestrian network in the inner city as well as a guideline (CVC Leidraad).

More information

Transparency & Communication Policy

In Amsterdam there are three offices working on improving air quality and increasing public awareness. The city states that between July 2012 and August 2013 alone, 53 activities within the context of the strategic communication plan Clean Air were undertaken, including promotion activities and the production of infographics. There are an interactive map, reports, data download, twitter and a newsletter. Direct contact is possible via the GGD health service. There is great amount of data on the health impact of air pollution at the municipal level. However, in our inquiries it seemed that is not well communicated.

Website on air quality of the city of Amsterdam

Response to Questionnaire

The city did not reply to the questionnaire, but informed us that it was due to the time frame for answering being too short.