As well as reducing air pollution, a new report has found that congestion charging schemes can encourage people to become more environmentally conscious.
Researchers surveyed car owners in Stockholm, Sweden, after the introduction of a congestion scheme and found that nearly half of respondents adopted behaviours such as reducing their energy and water use.
Questionnaires about Stockholm's congestion charging scheme were sent to over 1 200 people living in Stockholm County. Participants were asked how they traveled on a daily basis before and after the introduction of the scheme, as well as about recycling, shopping, energy and water consumption and travel at weekends.
Of the 370 who responded, only a few swapped their cars for greener methods of transport. A very small number - who had previously walked, cycled, or used public transport - began driving.
Despite this, over half of the respondents changed their behaviour in other ways, mainly regarding use of energy and water. They were more likely to use heating and water sparingly and switch off lights when they were not needed.
The results suggest that environmental policy measures may play an important role in raising awareness of environmental issues more generally. The increase in environmentally friendly behaviour may be caused by environmental information publicised through the scheme, giving more people the impression that it was important to be environmentally responsible.
For more information, read the latest EC's Science for Environment Policy News Alert.