For some time now Barcelona has been getting ready for the big battle against air pollution. The long-term goal is to achieve an increasing reduction in the number of vehicles on its roads and for the ones that are in circulation to be clean ones. With this in mind, a series of measures have been approved which will be introduced in stages. The first was put into operation on December 1st 2017, when a ban was introduced on pollutant vehicles in the metropolitan area (the area between and including the Ronda de Dalt and Ronda Litoral ring roads), in addition to 40 municipalities around Barcelona.
Are ones not awarded a classificatory label; that is, petrol-driven cars registered prior to the year 2000, diesel-powered ones registered prior to 2006, diesel-powered vans or vehicles with eight seats or more registered before 2005 and their petrol-driven counterparts registered prior to 2009. At the moment, they will only be banned on days when a pollution alert is announced, although the aim is for this ban to be permanent as from 2020, a very imminent date. In addition to this system of labels, which we will go on to explain, as from December 2017, all cars over 20 years old will be banned on days with episodes of pollution and, from January 1st 2019, these same vehicles will be banned from Monday to Friday even though there is no declared episode. That is, even though you might currently have a “B” label and be able to travel around freely in a petrol-driven car registered in 2001, this “privilege” will come to an end in a few years. As for motorbikes and motor scooters, there are also restrictions as from December 2018, ones without a label are not allowed to circulate on days when there is an episode of pollution (that is, motorbikes and scooters prior to Euro 2, which are generally those registered before 2003)
Car registrations in Spain
There are 31 million vehicles registered in Spain and 26.4 million have already been classified. It is also true, however, that not all of them have received their eco-label and, although it is advisable to stick it on the far right of the windscreen, this is not compulsory because checks will be made by reading number plates. With this classification system, it is thought that not only will this stop more pollutant vehicles from circulating on the roads but that it will encourage the use of green vehicles or public transport. In addition, these labels will serve as the basis for the introduction of new policies and measures that different local and regional authorities decide upon within their scope of authority in matters concerning air quality, such as higher parking costs in blue zones for pollutant vehicles or a higher road tax on them. Whatever the case, the classification system is as follows and it should be taken into account if you do not wish to be fined:
Zero emissions (blue label)
Battery electric vehicles (BEV), range-extended electric vehicles (REEVES), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) with a minimum range of 40 km, or fuel cell vehicles. No restriction on movement.
ECO (green & blue label)
Non-plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), natural gas vehicles (NGV), liquefied natural gas vehicles (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas vehicles (LPG). No restriction on movement.
C (green label)
Cars and light vans registered as from January 2006 and diesel ones as from 2014. Vehicles with more than eight seats and goods vehicles, powered by petrol or diesel, registered as from 2014. The petrol vehicles must comply with the Euro 4, 5 and 6 standards and diesel ones must comply with Euro 6. No restriction on movement.
B (yellow label)
Petrol-driven cars and light vans registered as from January 2000 and diesel ones registered as from January 2006. Vehicles with more than eight seats and goods vehicles, powered by petrol or diesel, registered as from 2005. No restriction on movement. (Until the vehicles are over 20 years old, when they will be subject to the restrictions outlined above).
No label: pollutant vehicle
Vehicles failing to comply with the environmental requirements will not be awarded any label by the Traffic Department. They will not be allowed on the roads on days when there is an environmental episode and, from 2020, they will never be allowed in Barcelona (from Ronda de Dalt to Ronda de la Litoral) or in the area known as Ambit-40, made up of 40 municipalities close to Barcelona. These can be seen at the end of this article.
Some 3.1 million vehicles registered in Catalonia (58.7%) have no label because they are too pollutant. Approximately 2.2 million are in the Greater Barcelona area and 570,000 in the city of Barcelona. The message is crystal clear: there will be increasing restrictions and the best way to make sure that you can travel everywhere with no problems is to buy a vehicle that will be awarded a blue or green label and to increase your use of public transport, particularly in and around cities. The transport companies are working jointly with the authorities to increase their services and boost their efficiency.