Cities and climate change: changing powers and changing responsibilities

Cities have different tools at their disposal to reduce greenhouse gases emissions. As far as transport is concerned, a frequent approach consists in forbidding certain vehicles to enter cities or in subjecting their possibilities to do so to the payment of a fee or to other conditions such as time-limits. However, national legal frameworks have often had to be adapted to provide for the possibility for cities to implement such policies. The contribution will analyse the legal framework of low-emission zones in Belgian and French cities in comparative perspective, in order to discuss the extent to which the challenge of climate change brings about an extension of the powers of cities to restrict individual freedom, as well as an extension of the scope of their legal responsibilities in environmental matters.