Air quality issue

By implementing integrated actions, Madrid’s air quality and climate change plan aimed to improve air quality for its residents and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, to mitigate climate change and improve public health.

Example of measures taken

As a first step, the municipality of Madrid analysed historical air quality and air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions data using high-resolution air quality modelling, to identify problem areas and key sources of pollution. This analysis focused on NO2 and particulate matter. The highest concentrations of NO2 were seen in the city centre, especially around main roads, as a result of emissions from traffic. Road transport was also the largest contributor to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions, accounting for 35%.

To follow up, 30 measures targeting the vehicle pool and mobility patterns were included in Madrid’s air quality and climate change plan. The three key measures were to:

  1. upgrade the city transport company with a fleet of low-emission buses, including zero–emission electric buses and hybrid buses
  2. offer financial incentives to taxi companies to convert their fleets to low-emission vehicles, to increase the share of electric or hybrid vehicles
  3. regulate access to car parking spaces, including restricting the availability of parking spaces on the basis of a vehicle’s performance, i.e. their Euro emissions standard classification.

Costs and trade-offs

Upgrading Madrid’s municipal bus fleet cost €350 million. The subsidies to promote the replacement of taxi vehicles cost €5.6 million over 4 years.

Who was involved?

The main actors involved in the measure were Madrid City Council, the city transport company and taxi companies, and the citizens of Madrid.

The plan’s main strategic objectives and measures were presented to the Air Quality Commission of the City of Madrid, an advisory body composed of representatives of the Madrid City Council, other public administrations and representative organisations of social interest, and experts in the field of air quality. The citizens of Madrid were consulted through various channels, to give all citizens the opportunity to contribute.

Lessons learnt

  • Political and social consensus around the need to reduce the use of polluting vehicles and improve air quality helped deliver the initiative.
  • Vehicle replacement met some opposition from the taxi sector. To overcome this and help incentivise fleet renewal, new regulations and subsides were implemented.

Madrid, Spain
Type of measure
Sustainable mobility
Target pollutants
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
Particulate matter
Pollution source targeted
Road traffic
Description of the project


Geographic coverage


Filed under:
Filed under: sustainable mobility
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