Four major cities around the world have pledged to ban the most polluting cars and vans by 2025 to tackle air pollution.
Did you know? Air pollution kills more people than malaria and AIDS combined! A report by the U.N. relays that approximately 3.5 million deaths occur each year because of indoor air pollution, and 3.3 million people die due to outdoor air pollution annually. In comparison, 1.7 million people a year die worldwide due to AIDS, and malaria is responsible for claiming 660,000 lives.
Because this reality is a travesty, a number of countries have implemented initiatives to reduce air pollution and, in effect, save lives. Joining the list are Mexico City, Paris, Madrid, and Athens.
At the C40 Mayors Summit which ended last week in Mexico City, mayors of all four cities pledged to ban diesel cars by 2025. Additional promises include urging citizens to walk, bike, or drive alternatively-fueled cars more often. Car manufacturers, as well, are asked to prioritize the needs of the public and invest in renewable technologies.
Ann Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, led the initiative. She announced:
“Mayors have already stood up to say that 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.”
The Guardian does not relay whether or not the pledge includes a total ban of diesel cars, or if the initiative will simply ban cars from certain areas of the cities. Regardless, the announcement is considered to be a ‘win’ for environmental advocates and future generations. Says Alan Andrews, a lawyer at the NGO ClientEarth, whose legal victory pushed the UK government to revise air pollution plans:
“This shows political leaders across the world are waking up to the damage diesel is doing to our health. But 2025 is a long time away when you consider the 467,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution in Europe [alone] every year.”
Earlier this year, Mexico City banned over one million cars in an air pollution crisis. Mexico City mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera expressed in a statement:
“It is no secret that in Mexico City we grapple with the twin problems of air pollution and traffic.”
In addition to expanding public transportation – such as the subway and bus system, bicycling infrastructure will be added – similar to what is taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark. Athens mayor Giorgos Kaminis also suggested that he wants the Grecian city to go one step further by removing every car from Athens’ center.
The concerns of climate change and air pollution affect every citizen on the planet, which is why Hidalgo wants not only the mayors of these major cities to invest in change but for leaders elsewhere to adopt sustainable initiatives.
“Today, we…stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes – particularly for our most vulnerable citizens,” Hidalgo concluded. “Big problems like air pollution require bold action, and we call on car and bus manufacturers to join us.”
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