Guadalajara: Mexico’s first low-emission zone

  • March 5, 2024
  • William Payne

The City of Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico and capital of the Province of Jalisco in the country’s west, has announced its plans for Mexico’s first low-emission zone (LEZ).

The zone is in the historic centre of the city, around the city centre’s busy Ramón Corona intersection. The objective is to improve road safety, reduce emissions and improve air quality by increasing infrastructure for active travel and regulating the access of polluting vehicles in a two square kilometre polygon.

The move is part of Guadalajara’s broader efforts to reduce road injuries and deaths while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combat the climate crisis.

Interim Mayor of Guadalajara Juan Francisco Ramírez Salcido and State Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramírez attended the inaugural ceremony alongside other government and civil society leaders. Both the city and the State of Jalisco are committed to improving accessibility and security where a high number of people converge. The Ramón Corona intersection sees more than 170,000 trips daily in all means of transportation.

C40 Cities, a global network of 100 cities working to improve environmental in urban centres, collaborated with Guadalajara’s Mobility and Transport, and Environment Directorates, conducting thorough technical work alongside the city’s Institute of Planning and Development Management of the Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara (IMEPLAN).

Working together, the historic centre of Guadalajara was chosen as the designated area for the city’s first LEZ intervention.

The Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara’s climate action plan (PACmetro), released in 2020, received the United Nations Global Climate Action Award in the Climate Leader category during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). The plan was the first instrument built on a metropolitan scale in Mexico and within the C40 network.

Guadalajara’s LEZ covers an area of 2 square kilometres in the city’s historic centre where, over the past decade, various measures were implemented to improve mobility, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and urban nature, with designated spaces and schedules for loading and unloading goods, speed limits of 30 km/h, all in an effort to prioritise road safety while creating dynamic, healthy and enjoyable public spaces. The LEZ reflects a consolidated vision of a healthy, resilient, inclusive and sustainable city.

Technical studies conducted for the project revealed that cars are the main source of emissions in the historic centre of Guadalajara, followed by motorcycles and light cargo vehicles. Furthermore, it is estimated that the interventions carried out in Paseo Alcalde (between 2008 and 2023) have mitigated 90% of greenhouse gases in this corridor and reduced road crashes by 53.3%.

Based on estimations of the impacts of these actions and the plans of the city, there is potential of reducing CO₂ by 90%, black carbon by 92% and increasing life expectancy by 0.46 years for users of the area by 2030, due to the reduction of risks associated with emissions and bad air quality. Additionally, it is expected to attract 141,962 new pedestrians and 4,912 new cyclists annually as a result of the transition towards a more sustainable and healthier urban environment.