• Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and Congestion Charge (CC) policies are usually controversial, and effective public communication is one of the factors contributing to their successful implementation.
  • Public communication involves a process of dialogue with different stakeholders and a process to interact with the general public for feedback.
  • Successful international experience shows that public communication for LEZ and CC should start as early as possible with a feasibility study and should continue through all stages of scheme design, implementation, operation, and management.
  • Public communication should be integrated with the LEZ/CC scheme design so as to allow enough time for scheme changes and for proactive public education.
  • Public communication should be integrated with data collection to allow for an informative evaluation process.


Public acceptance plays a significant role in the successful implementation LEZ and CC policies. LEZ and CC policies have been implemented in many cities worldwide, especially in Europe. These policies have been proven to be effective in congestion mitigation and emissions reduction. Securing public acceptance for LEZ and CC policies requires several components, including a statement of initial policy objectives, political will, a deliverable operational strategy, and scheme design scalability (i.e., whether the scheme can be increased in size). With comprehensive references to a variety of international examples, this working paper focuses on stakeholder communication, outreach, and consultation processes as some of the most critical measures to raise awareness and secure support for LEZ and CC schemes.

The Research Problem

This paper was developed based on interviews with experts in LEZ/CC communication strategies, observations made during study tours in some of the case study cities, and literature reviews of the studied cities. This paper identifies typical cases of LEZ/CC public policy communication with both successful and unsuccessful cases analyzed. This paper is structured to answer the following questions: 

  • What are the key stakeholders for LEZ/CC public communication, and what are the negotiation strategies with stakeholders?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of respective government departments (including city and state administrations) in public outreach?
  • What are the institutional arrangements (e.g., existence of dedicated communications department, government communication liaison, outsourcing commercial companies, and the respective reporting lines) to support the public communication process?
  • What are the communication measures, contents, skills, and plans in different phases?
  • What public participation and feedback mechanisms are used, and how to respond to negative public feedback?

Findings and Recommendations

Securing sufficient levels of public support through public communications is important. With no LEZ/CC implemented in China, a successful pioneer implementation supported by effective public communication strategies will make it easy to promote the policy elsewhere nationally in the future. Based on observations from the development of sample international cases, recommendations on public communication strategies in the design of China’s first CC or LEZ scheme are made as follows:

  • The development and delivery of public communication programs cannot be independent of the context of the intended (or prevailing) scheme but must be integrated within it.
  • It is important that public communication be carried out as early as possible in the feasibility study process or the policy design process.
  • Communication of the highest priority policy objectives of the scheme should emphasize that the primary aims are to improve air quality or to mitigate congestion.
  • Public communication needs to be positive and proactive and could be used as an opportunity to inform and educate people.
  • Dealing with opposing opinions can be handled through negotiation and the granting of certain exemptions in the consultation process to give all stakeholders confidence that their views are being recorded and potentially used to adapt the scheme design.
  • Public communication should be integrated with data collection to allow for an informative evaluation process.