The mayors of 4 of the world’s largest cities — Paris, Madrid, Mexico City, and Athens — have publicly committed to banning all diesel vehicles from their jurisdictions by the year 2025. The announcements came at the recent C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City, according to reports.
Importantly, the mayors also committed to doing everything within their means to incentivize “the use of electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles,” as well as bicycling and walking.
To be clear on the first commitment, this would apparently apply to all diesel vehicles — including trucks, not just cars. The idea is to improve local air quality and also to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — which is what the C40 forum was initially formed for, the idea being to give mayors working to mitigate and prevent anthropogenic climate change a place to share notes, so to speak.
The mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, commented on this: “The quality of the air that we breathe in our cities is directly linked to tackling climate change. As we reduce the greenhouse gas emissions generated in our cities, our air will become cleaner and our children, our grandparents and our neighbours will be healthier.”
Commenting on related actions taken so far — such as the banning of vehicles registered before 1997 from the city and the conversion of a ~1.8 mile (3 kilometer) section of motorway running alongside the Seine river to pedestrian travel — the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, stated: “Our city is implementing a bold plan — we will progressively ban the most polluting vehicles from the roads, helping Paris citizens with concrete accompanying measures. Our ambition is clear and we have started to roll it out: we want to ban diesel from our city, following the model of Tokyo, which has already done the same.”
The mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera, commented as well: “It is no secret that in Mexico City, we grapple with the twin problems of air pollution and traffic. By expanding alternative transportation options like our Bus Rapid Transport and subway systems, while also investing in cycling infrastructure, we are working to ease congestion in our roadways and our lungs.”
As a reminder of why this matters, the health issues accompanying the use of diesel vehicles were given an overview by BBC News in its coverage: “The World Health Organization says that around 3 million deaths every year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution.” (We reported on that in August.) Going on: “Diesel engines contribute to the problem in two key ways — through the production of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Very fine soot PM can penetrate the lungs and can contribute to cardiovascular illness and death. Nitrogen oxides can help form ground level ozone and this can exacerbate breathing difficulties, even for people without a history of respiratory problems.”
While not quite at the same level of impact on health as PM pollution, traffic noise is actually also a significant contributor to many urban health problems — while electric vehicles certainly aren’t completely silent at high speeds, they are noticeably quieter and could potentially help to improve some health figures/outcomes as well.
Good news, overall. I wonder, how soon before mayors of other major cities hop on the wagon? Some must be considering it simply from these announcements.