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EU Pressures Cities to Clean Up Dirty Air

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Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
2/25/2014 5:27:34 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Seems like good news
It's interesting to me that Europe is as under the thumb of the auto industry as you say, Pablo. I think of that as a distinctly American phenomenon, given the number of US carmakers and their marketing budgets, the size of the interstate highway system in the US, and the relatively paltry intercity train coverage we have here in the US as opposed to very well networked by train Europe. To say nothing of how prevelant biking is in many European cities. What kind of demand (if any) is there for electric cars? Again, the compact size of many European streets and overall relative prevalence of small cars there versus here in the US would seem to set the stage for Europe to embrace the e-car trend perhaps a bit more readily than we American drivers. 

CitySolver
CitySolver  
2/25/2014 12:48:24 PM
User Rank Blogger
EU ambitions
even though I disagree with London being unfairly picked on by the EU, I am stunned that air pollution is the number one cause of premature deaths in the EU, thats genuinely shocking to me. So even though I took the poll to the right of your screen saying that we should invest in buses, maybe I withdraw that opinion and say that light rail and electric city cars are the answer, not more high emmissions from buses (afterall in the UK its rare to see a full bus, but full trains are wuite common)

stillalive
stillalive  
2/20/2014 2:09:13 PM
User Rank Town Crier
Re: Seems like good news
Pablo, I don't disagree with your aims, but part of the problem is the EU's over-simplistic methods of operating such bans. If traffic reduction through fines or swingeing taxes are the only solutions then the EU, and not the cities like London, should consider what the side effects and costs of such actions are and be prepared to pay or compensate for them.

The most obvious in London is arguably caused by the lack of EU control over the non-UK EU member states who are currently treating UK property as if it was a commodity like sugar or oil. Good control would stifle the market and so would prevent the massive stock of empty property and the directly related ever outward movement of the people who work in the cities. The consequent effects of this, guess what, is increased car use because of the newly inadequate transport facilities and consequent "over a barrel" fare increases. With this itself go the increased polluting effects of the increased use of long distance transport for commuting from remote suburbs and other towns.

Perhaps less obvious, except to us cyclists, is the use of non ultra clean diesel by the EU member states who have either only a long term duty or even none as yet to clean up their exhausts. Trucks burning goodness knows what have sufficient tanking to make a round trip from the "last" non-UK cheap but polluting filling station. It would be simple to allow local authorities here to confiscate not only vehicles but any cargo/contents as well. I have heard of a suggestion that dipping tanks of a fraction of incoming vehicles leaving ferries and the Channel Tunnel is adequate and not prohibitively expensive.

Nicole Ferraro
Nicole Ferraro  
2/20/2014 11:31:54 AM
User Rank Staff
EU vs UK
Thanks for the blog, Pablo. According to a press release I received today, it looks like the EU is taking legal action against the UK to force it to reduce levels of diesel fumes or pay fines. The case is expected to move forward later this year, which should give the UK some time to launch plans and initiatives to demonstrate that it's taking this issue seriously. London's zero-emissions mandate is a good start.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/20/2014 9:58:25 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Seems like good news
Thanks, Pablo. Your points are all well taken; it seems there will need to be a combination of remedies, perhaps given in differing percentages, depending on the city.

Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio  
2/20/2014 6:40:21 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Seems like good news
Reducing traffic is the key, actually the only solution. The problem is political will and the pressure from car manufacturers.

Unfortunately the car industry is very strong in Europe and they always play the card that reducing car use will hurt the economy and kill jobs. While this is could be the case in some areas new business oportunities will arise.

City leaders need to look long-term. One step will be to penalize non-residents for bringing their cars to the city, such as London does. Another is helping people make the shift towards electric vehicles. But a good bike-sharing program and better public transportation are the best initiatives.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/19/2014 10:17:31 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Seems like good news
It is heartening to hear the EU stepping up for those who are most badly affected by the pollution, @Pablo.

Reducing car traffic does seem to be the key. Whether cities will step up to take action remains to be seen. I for one would like to see the threat of fine help push things along, though.

Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio  
2/19/2014 9:54:41 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Seems like good news
Thank you Mary, sometimes it is necessary for the EU to strongly enforce the rules and make governments comply with these kind of regulations, especially the ones that affect people's health.

I don't think paying fines will work for any city. Those fines are big and cities have no money. Additionally the EU will increase fines if they believe the current ones are not working.

What city governments need to understand is the only solution is to reduce car and truck traffic, and fix their public transportation systems. They also need to convince citizens to leave their cars at home and impose heavy restrictions on people driving into the city from other towns.

Those are though policies to enforce but we can't continue looking the other way while pollution is there harming citizens' health, especially children and seniors.

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/19/2014 9:27:51 AM
User Rank Staff
Seems like good news
Thanks for this great update, Pablo. It seems like progress to me. Though it remains to be seen how well the cities comply, the EU Commission has put a mandate on air cleanliness that should really help incremental improvement at least.

Do you think any cities will just opt to pay fines instead of meeting their marks?

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