The Low Emissions Zone (ZBE) of Barcelona must be maintained. This is the political consensus expressed jointly this Wednesday by the City Council of the Catalan capital and the other four metropolitan consistories included in the ZBE and the Generalitat. The problem is that the ZBE is not in the hands of politics, but of Justice, whom the Barcelona City Council has accused of annulling the measure due to “ideology”.
Justice overturns the veto on polluting cars in Barcelona
Beyond reaffirming its political will to maintain the ZBE and resorting to the Supreme Court for its annulment, the appearance of the administrations affected by the court ruling has served for the Barcelona City Council to criticize the judges of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC ) that on Monday they knocked down the anti-pollution measure. “The ruling incorporates more political and ideological than legal elements,” said the deputy mayor for Urban Planning, Janet Sanz.
“We respect judicial decisions even if we do not share them, and we agree that the ecological transition has to be fair”, said the deputy mayor for digital transition and mobility, Laia Bonet. The socialist representative has lowered Sanz’s (common) criticism of the judges, and has argued that precisely to meet the objective that the ZBE would not have a great impact on the lower classes, the City Council established moratoriums on polluting vehicles and subsidized public transport in exchange for scrap.
Another point of disagreement between comuns and socialists is the inclusion of more vetoed vehicles in the ZBE. In this sense, Bonet has reaffirmed that, contrary to the intention of the commons, vehicles with a yellow label from the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) will not be included immediately in the DGT.
All the representatives of the administrations have agreed that the sentence is contrary to the anti-pollution obligations that come from the European Union and that have made 300 large cities of the continent approve a ZBE similar to that of Barcelona. “The sentence goes beyond a legal analysis of the file, and that worries us”, pointed out the general director of environmental quality and climate change of the Generalitat, Marc Sanglas.
The ZBE entered into force in January 2020 without political opposition. Only the PP, Ciudadanos and Barcelona pel Canvi –Manuel Valls’s party– abstained. In favor they voted, in addition to the comuns and the PSC, ERC and Junts. The measure has the support of the other four city councils of the Barcelona conurbation included in the ZBE –Sant Adrià del Besòs, L’Hospitalet, Esplugues and Cornellà de Llobregat–, the AMB itself and the Generalitat.
The Catalan Government has gone further than the state climate change law – which obliges municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants to approve a Low Emissions Zone before 2023 – and has set the threshold in municipalities with 20,000 inhabitants. The sentence has generated concern for the Government and the municipalities, who want to shield the ordinances so that the Justice does not knock down the new ZBE.
In addition to ensuring that the data on the fleet was not “up to date”, the TSJC annulled the ZBE considering that the City Council did not calculate the impact of the measure on the owners of polluting vehicles who were forced to change them. A consideration of the judges that collides with what precisely the justificatory reports of the City Council argued, which recalled that the ZBE does not affect “to a great extent” the lower social classes because the most disadvantaged do not usually use the car to get around, but the public transport.