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For over a hundred years, they have been everywhere – on every road, in every country. But all that is about to change.

More and more of us are waking up to the climate emergency. We all know that we need to cut emissions, fast. And to do that we’re going to need to radically transform whole areas of how our societies work, how our economies function.

Climate Protest with CO2 Debt Clock in Berlin © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

Greenpeace activists demonstrate with a digital CO2 debt clock in front of the Ministry of Transport in Berlin. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

We know that progress is too slow. But in many areas, we’re not progressing at all. Compared to 1990, transport emissions are 25% higher in Europe; 74% higher globally. By far the greatest source of those transport emissions, about 70%, is from road transport.

Change is happening

But around the world, cities and governments are taking action against petrol and diesel cars. Whether it’s introducing dates to phase out the internal combustion engine at a national level, restricting cars’ access into cities, or banning whole categories of cars within city limits, attitudes are shifting around the car’s role in everyday life. Now, Greenpeace has a map to track that progress worldwide, in one place. A map that details the phase out dates (PODs) of petrol and diesel powered cars.

Map tracking ICE phase out  © Greenpeace

Greenpeace map to track ICE phase-out, car access restrictions into cities and specific cars bans within city limits. © Greenpeace

This list is not exhaustive. More cities and regions will be added to the list over time. It’s a living website, tracking changes on the ground.

As more and more of us are waking up to the climate emergency, we can expect more cities and countries to appear on this map. And it’s essential that they do. These cars, powered by dirty fuels like petrol and diesel, emit climate-wrecking gases with every journey. And increasingly, we’re learning they are destroying our health too.

Emissions from petrol and diesel cars are poisoning our lungs, hearts and kidneys. Research links exposure to car exhaust with greater risk of developing major diseases like lung cancer, asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and strokes. Fossil fuelled cars in cities are a public health hazard of our nightmares. Recent research indicates that air pollution from road traffic may now kill more people than smoking.

We can avoid smoking. But how many of us could avoid the exhaust from cars on our way to work, or to drop the kids off at school?

We need to abolish polluting ICE cars for our planet’s health, and our own.

We need all cities to compete with each other to get cleaner, faster. We want people to use this map  to push their elected representatives to go further, to enact new laws to restrict petrol and diesel cars, and to hold decision-makers accountable.

Banning petrol and diesel cars is a key step that cities and governments can take to radically improve their citizens’ health and cut their carbon emissions. But it’s not the full picture. Making walking and cycling more attractive will help more people make the lowest-carbon choice.

Urban Mobility and Transport in Münster © Bernd Lauter / Greenpeace

Public transport in Münster. A bus passes bicycles. © Bernd Lauter / Greenpeace

Likewise, an affordable and comprehensive public transport system (powered by renewable energy) is critical to enable more and more of us to give up car ownership entirely. For journeys that still require a car, together we can move to shared ownership of smaller, electric vehicles, ensuring that the cars that are on the road are efficiently used by those who need them.

We cannot wait to act on climate. We know that we have to cut emissions from transport. But in thinking about how we do that, we also have a moment to re-think how cities work and who they are for. We have a chance to make our cities more beautiful, more relaxing and ultimately better places to live. We have so much to gain by getting rid of fossil fuelled cars, and to build cities around people.

Andrew Tobert is a clean air campaigner with Greenpeace Belgium