Air pollution is one of the most acute problems modern society is facing at the moment. Determining why this is happening is easy. These days, the majority of people are moving from rural areas to cities, which means more fuel and energy consumption. Like we said, determining why the air quality is so poor today is easy, the hard part is solving the problem. Some countries and cities are taking this situation seriously, and they are trying out all sorts of creative solutions in order to tackle this environmental crisis. Let’s see how different cities and their governments are fighting air pollution.
China has been tackling air pollution for years now. They have been trying to clear the smog in hundreds of large towns and cities. This smog is the main reason why the air quality is many times worse than levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization. For a long time, this was posing a serious health threat for hundreds of millions of Chinese. However, back in 2013, the situation started to change for the better. After being elected China’s Premier, Li Keqiang acknowledged China’s pollution as the number one flaming issue in the country. He promised to clear most of the smog by eliminating outdated energy producers and industrial plants. To this day, he is keeping his promise and continuing the good work. There were a lot of changes in the environment ministry, which is now able to close factories and power plants that failed to meet the new standards. Today, even the largest state-owned companies have to play by the new rules, or else they will be closed. These new measures produced impressive results, and the air in China today is definitely clearer and healthier.
Paris is not as polluted as the cities we previously mentioned, so their bans are not so strict. However, the government in Paris bans cars in historic central districts during the weekends. They also impose odd-even bans on vehicles, and they make public transport free during major pollution events in order to encourage citizens to use busses and trams. The officials in Paris are also asking people to use a car and bike-sharing programs. In an attempt to reduce air pollution, the government decided to make the long section of the Right Bank of the river Seine car-free. This is now a wonderful area reserved for pedestrians and tourists.
This country is famous for its green initiatives. Politicians in The Netherlands want to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars from 2025. They want to allow only electric or hydrogen vehicles on their roads. Even though this law might seem drastic, they will allow anyone who already owns a petrol or diesel car to continue using it. As you probably know, most cities there encourage bicycle use.
Since we are talking about bicycles, it would be a shame not to mention Copenhagen, the city that is known for prioritizing bikes over cars. There are now more bicycles than people in this city. This paints a perfect picture of how much the officials and citizens of Copenhagen love bikes. The government of the Danish capital closed large areas of the city to vehicles in an attempt to become carbon neutral by 2025. This will definitely put Copenhagen on the list of cities with the cleanest air in the world.
A lot of cities in India have polluted air, and, sadly, Bangalore is facing the same issues. However, the government of this Indian city has taken this situation seriously. They started converting 6,000 buses to compressed natural gas, and they have asked citizens to travel less by car. This produced impressive results. The officials managed to reduce traffic pollution by about 20% in a few years. Also, these days one in four people who used to travel by car now use public transport. Needless to say, the Bangalore government is very proud of this result.
The beautiful Finnish capital plans on improving the air quality by drastically reducing the number of cars on the streets. They want to invest in better public transport, impose higher parking fees, and encourage citizens to ride bikes and walk more. Besides this, the government wants to convert the inner city ring roads into residential and pedestrian areas. Some predictions suggest that by 2025 the public transport in Helsinki will be so well-organized and available to everyone that citizens won’t have to use their cars in the city. This is, hands down, one of the best ways to fight air pollution.
As a measure against air pollution, Zurich officials have limited the number of parking spaces in the city. Also, they are building more car-free areas, tram lines, and streets reserved only for pedestrians. Naturally, these measures produced remarkable results. Citizens of Zurich are noticing a dramatic reduction in traffic jams, and because of this, they are breathing better and healthier air.
It’s safe to say that air pollution is a problem almost every city in the world is facing today. Tackling this issue is a tough challenge, but the cities we mentioned in this article are taking drastic measures and inspiring other cities to do the same.
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