Diesel vehicles are to be banned from the centres of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City by 2025.
The announcement was made on Friday at the C40 Mayors Summit.
Mayor of Paris and chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Anne Hidalgo said: ““Mayors have already stood up to say that the climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face.
“Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes – particularly for our most vulnerable citizens. Big problems like air pollution require bold action, and we call on car and bus manufacturers to join us.”
Head of the United Nations’ climate and clean air coalition Helena Molin said: “Soot from diesel vehicles is among the big contributors to ill health and global warming.”
She said nine out of 10 people live in air pollution conditions exceeding World Health Organisation safety limits.
Engines running on diesel fuel generate nitrogen dioxide, a major cause of air pollution in cities.
Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, said: “This bold move to get rid of diesels, the most polluting vehicles, is exactly what is needed. We need cleaner vehicles and fewer of them. Getting rid of diesel is essential and we must also give people genuine alternatives to driving.”
C40 also announced that it was joining with the World Health Organisation and UN Environment’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition, in support of the BreathLife campaign to halve the 6.5 million deaths from air pollution by 2030.
The global campaign will support city governments to reduce harmful emissions from the transport, waste and energy sectors, as well as mobilizing citizen action to reduce air pollution while also slowing climate change.