As part of a global campaign for better air quality, many cities around the world have either opted to, or are considering plans to ban diesel cars and commercial vehicles from the their streets in the coming years. Currently Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico city have all opted to take the extreme measure of removing all diesel vehicles from their roads in the next few years, as evidence mounts that point the finger at the vehicles for ever worse levels of air pollution in major built up cities.
Indeed this rising pollution levels now means that 9 out of 10 people globally live with air that isn’t healthy for them, this is according the World Health Organisation. In the UK the NGO ClientEarth has forced the Biritsh government consider their stance on the matter. Their lawyer Alan Andrews said after forcing the rethink “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.”
Recent evidence has also shown that poor air quality was a contributory factor to around 3 million premature deaths, and is now thought of as the worlds number one killer. This in only expected to continue due to the ever increasing industrialization, and the increasing growth of urban areas. The worst cases are unsurprisingly in the worlds most populous cities. This is most keenly felt in the worlds two most populated countries, China and India. Both are developing industrial powers, and while it must be noted that China have made strides in the last few years, India still lag considerably behind the average.
Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said “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.”
This approach to diesel vehicles is just part of the problem, though it must be noted that the impending boom in electric vehicle sales, that will most likely replace a lot of polluting vehicles that are currently on the road can only be a good thing. The aviation industry has taken strides to improve its poor environmental history, but has an incredibly long way to go. This along with industry, that also has an extremely detrimental effect on the environment and also have a large part to play. These two players will no doubt be the biggest difference makers, but the hardest to convince.
Joseph is a 34 year old freelance writer from London. He has a wide interest in politics and specialises in the subject. He's also a blog writer in his spare time.