Quito experiences unsafe levels of air pollution due to petrol and diesel vehicles emitting toxic gases into the air. Pollution exposure negatively affects local economies and the health of residents through lost working days, increased hospital admissions and associated medical costs. These impacts affect Quito’s low-income and vulnerable communities the most, as the areas with the cleanest air are often the most expensive to reside in.

To address this, Quito has introduced an air quality monitoring network that combines low-cost sensors and monitoring stations in residents’ homes, engaging locals with the air quality challenge. The city has installed stations in all 32 parishes, prioritising neighbourhoods with high numbers of migrants and young children. The data generated by the network has allowed the city to identify hotspots and times of day when air pollution is at its worst, enabling the city to take action accordingly. 

New mandatory vehicle inspections have led to the removal of 125,000 high-polluting cars from the streets, resulting in a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions during rush hour. A zero-emission zone in Quito’s historical centre has reduced pollutants to levels that are compliant with national regulations. The city’s public bicycle scheme is increasingly popular among locals, and Quito remains on course to meet its 2030 target of reducing CO2 emissions by 30%.

This case study was originally published for the 2022 C40 Cities Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards, which recognise ambitious and impactful projects led by mayors that address climate challenges. The initiative featured as a finalist in the award category: Cleaning the Air We Breathe

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