Retrofitting measures and helping electric cars to proliferate are welcome, but drastically reducing the amount of traffic in the hearts of cities has an immediate effect.
One of the most visually striking examples of its efficacy can be found in Beijing, one of the most smog-ridden cities on Earth. In recent times, before enormous military parades, authorities banned much of its traffic from its streets and hundreds of factories were shut down. This resulted in beautiful, rare, azure skies, and air quality index levels in the healthiest category.
Banning traffic from the centers of cities has normally just been a temporary measure, however, which is why a multi-pronged approach is needed. Some cities have even looked to colossal air filters, like China’s Xian, which appear to be fairly good at filtering large particulate matter out of the air.
It’s not clear at this stage if the trials will be successful or when precisely they may begin, and some German authorities have concerns over how such a scheme will be financed. Some local newspapers have hinted that the public transportation network may not be able to handle the additional burden of extra users.
Still, air pollution-curbing measures are welcome. Air pollution has been blamed for 500,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2014 alone – so hopefully we don’t have to hold out for the death of the internal combustion engine before the EU’s air quality begins to markedly improve.