The New Year has already been a busy one for cities trying to tackle air pollution, especially in the U.K., France, and Sweden. Not to mention the exciting fact that the U.S. rejoined the Paris Agreement and reinvigorated its pledge to fight climate change.
In the U.K., Greater Manchester is on the precipice of initiating its first Clean Air Zone, which according to a Rochdale Online article, makes it the “largest of its kind in England when it comes into effect in spring 2022”. This zone will address the highest polluting vehicles in the fleet, which currently contribute to air pollution associated with 1,200 deaths per year in the Greater Manchester area. According to the Manchester Evening News, “[n]on-compliant buses and heavy goods vehicles would pay £60 a day to drive within the zone, with vans paying £10 and taxi and private hire vehicles paying £7.50.” Even with the hefty fines and funding dedicated to implementation, consultations show there are still concerns among the populous that the funding package “will not go far enough”. Only time will tell once the zone is put into place how effective their scheme will be for Greater Manchester.
Also, in the U.K., the major car manufacturer, Vauxhall, has been hit with accusations that some of their vehicle models are equipped with illegal defeat devices. FleetNews mentions that the affected models were manufactured between 2009 to 2019 and include the Astra, Cascada, Corsa, Insignia, Mokka, Movano, and Zafira models. Drivers of these models are concerned that they will face fines related to the legal action taken against Vauxhall, but an article in Express assures that owners will “not be charged a penny."
Despite the negativity, some inspiring news came out of the Imperial College London this month in which “[r]esearchers found that if London is able to meet 2005 World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on particulate matter by 2030, the population would gain a further 20% increase in life years saved over the next 20 years.” As a result of these strict policies, researchers predict that the life expectancy of children in London is likely to increase by six months.
For positive changes to happen, stringent guidelines and implementing innovative technologies, like EDAR, are paramount when working toward these goals.
In France, seven new Low Emission Zones are still set to begin in 2021. As of January 1, 2021, in many areas, such as Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, Nice, Rouen, Strasbourg, Toulon, and Toulouse, establishing these zones became mandatory. Some cities are using a phased approach that incorporates more types of vehicles and Crit’Air classifications in the next few years, while other cities are still working through the methods and timelines for implementation. An article in Flottes Automobiles breaks down the status of the zones in each city.
Lastly, in January this year, Gothenburg, Sweden, is breaking records by starting the first Green City Zone that incorporates the development of climate-neutral transportation, in an effort to meet net-zero goals by 2030. An article in This Week in FM described the zone best by stating that this new Green City Zone is “A Zone of Possibilities, Not Limitations." The city is treating this area as a testbed for new technologies and infrastructure to pioneer a new kind of city with the most cutting-edge development.
Gothenburg’s efforts are quite admirable, and we completely agree that the need for new, green technology is the way forward for a cleaner, healthier future.
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