One hundred cities in the EU have pledged to drastically reduce their carbon emissions by 2030.
The 100 Climate-Neutral and Smart Cities initiative by the European Commission received more than 370 applications. And while cities are taking the lead in the fight against the climate, they are also responsible for the majority of the world's pollution.
Some cities will do more than others, especially considering these plans are not legally binding. Nonetheless, it’s a great sight to see cities taking the lead towards a cleaner and better future for Europe’s cities and the planet.
Clean European waterways
In Propel’s home country, The Netherlands, six cities demonstrated that battling the climate crisis is on top of their agenda. Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Groningen, Eindhoven, and Amsterdam each decided to do their part in reducing carbon emissions.
While the country is renowned for its waterworks, The Netherlands is also in the top 10 on the Eco-Innovation scoreboard and has the highest density of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations.
Interestingly, when you think about reducing carbon emissions, you might not immediately think about boats. Yet, throughout Europe, various cities and counties have already banned fossil fuel powered boats or will forbid banning them over the next few years.
For example, on virtually all lakes in Austria and Germany, only electric propelled boats are permitted. And for cities, there is another good reason to ban fossil fuel powered boats, they are relatively large contributors to local air pollution.
Electrified canals of Amsterdam
In the ‘Venice of the North’, Amsterdam, something interesting is happening. The Dutch capital did not only focus on climate change, they are also considering the shortened expected life span of its residents, caused by air pollution.
Air pollution is the number-3 cause of premature death, after smoking and unhealthy lifestyles.
"Everyone wants clean air. We are therefore taking measures to improve air quality in Amsterdam. All forms of transport must be emission-free within 10 years. This includes transport by water. From 2025 this will already apply to the city centre," is written on the informative webpage by the municipality of Amsterdam.
The city first researched what devices and equipment are causing the air pollution and greenhouse gasses, and then ranked only those that are within the city’s span of control.
While cars are responsible for most emissions, commercial and leisure marine take the second spot. Therefore, the municipality of Amsterdam has decided to decarbonize its canals by 2025.
As of 2030, the rules will also apply for all other Amsterdam waters. Switching to electric boating is already encouraged by the city’s municipality: Emission-free boats currently receive a 70% discount on inland port dues.
Driven by legislation, canal cruise operators have already electrified their fleets, but now, private boat owners will need to make the transition as well. This means that the 7000+ boats that cruise the city’s historical canals, will have to convert into electric propulsion in less than 3 years. Considering that in 2019 only 5% of the privately owned fleet were driven by emission-free propulsion, it’s quite the ambition.
Change does matter
Now, if you think that electrifying boats will not make a difference in reducing emissions, here are some stats to convince you otherwise.
Privately owned boats, and commercially owned boats that are used recreationally, are collectively responsible for 7% of all nitrous oxide emissions and 4% of the total particulate matter within the city.
Moreover, due to the lack of exhaust gas treatment systems in boat engines, as found in all modern car engines, a modern 5 horsepower 4-stroke outboard engine can be as polluting as 39 passenger cars driving at 95 km/h. Try to visualize that.