Zero Emission Zones with Rotterdam’s Arjan Oranje

Audio Editing by: Wangyuxuan Xu Scripting by: Marie Hogan Blurb by: Elizabeth Sherstinsky

What are zero-emission zones?

A zero-emission zone (ZEZ) is a designated area where only zero-emission vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists are permitted unrestricted access. Other vehicles are not permitted entrance, or must pay a fee to enter. Some ZEZs permit hybrid electric vehicles to enter, and these zones are referred to as “near-ZEZs”. Due to freight transportation’s outsize impact on carbon emissions, several cities have chosen to establish zero-emission zones exclusively focused on freight transport. 

Several dozen cities around the world, most of them in Europe, have implemented or announced plans to establish zero-emission zones. The United States is yet to implement a ZEZ. Global ZEZ development occurs in the context of a rapid increase in electric vehicles on city streets. Increased electric vehicle sales enable the establishment of ZEZs, which, in turn, incentivize electric vehicle ownership. 

How to establish a ZEZ? What are some possible obstacles to establishing zero-emission zones?

Legal/PoliticalLack of political acceptance due to fears of public reactionsBureaucratic/slow decision makingPrivacy concerns regarding street sensors and cameras, enabling occupancy control and street charging
FinancialNeeds large-scale investment in EVs and EV infrastructureIncremental long-term vs immediate short term improvement impacts budget considerationsHow to account for a wide range of stakeholders with competing financial interests
TechnologicalPutting in sensors and street cameras at scaleCreating convenient apps and platforms Open-source data and data platforms (ie data on traffic flow)
OtherSupport from local communitiesWhat happens to those that cannot afford electric vehicles?How to scale up, ie from a single street to an entire section of a city

Who is Arjan Oranje?

Arjan Oranje is program manager for zero emission mobility in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Starting in 2025, Rotterdam is designating its city center as a zero-emissions zone. 

Learn More

How C40 cities are implementing zero emission areas

Zero emissions areas: Why aren’t they everywhere? | World Economic Forum

Zero Emissions Zones: A tool to target benefits of vehicle electrification to communities that need it most – The Greenlining Institute

Can low emissions zones effectively regulate traffic in cities? | Automotive World


Arjan: 50% of all trips with cars in Rotterdam don’t exceed the five mile radius. So 50% can easily be done by bike or by an electric car. But even my plugin hybrid covers 80% of the trips I would like to do.

Ethan: I’m Ethan Elkind, and this is Climate Break. You just heard from Arjan Oranje, program manager for zero emission mobility in Rotterdam, a city in the Netherlands and Europe’s largest seaport. Starting in 2025, they’re decarbonising transport by designating the city center a zero-emission zone, free from traffic related carbon pollution.

Arjan: The zero mission zone on logistics is rolled out in 30 to 40 big cities in the Netherlands. So we’re closely working together with the other cities to learn from each other. What have you done, what is working with you? How can you approach the companies?

Arjan: What’s really strong about this zero emission zone is that we put it in place in cooperation with all the companies involved in transport in the city. We have a logistics community of around 1700 companies. We’re working together to get this in place. 

Arjan: So from next year on all our personal cars for the city of Rotterdam will be cleaned. Two years from now, 2025, all vans. The bigger companies are reaching out to each other and helping each other to decarbonize their complete fleet and their use of that fleet.

Arjan: And it’s not only the way to zero for zero emissions and zero noise, but it’s also zero traffic jams and zero empty cars, empty vans. So we make a combination of better business models for logistics transport with better service on the streets, and becoming zero emission.

Ethan: To learn more about Rotterdam’s approach to a zero emissions zone and how to advocate for similar zones in the cities near you, visit

Zero Emission Zones with Rotterdam’s Arjan Oranje