Pollution’s a prolific killer. In fact, around 9 million people around the world every year die prematurely because of it. Air pollution is by far the primary antagonist in this grim tale, and although most of these deaths take place in developing countries, wealthy nations still struggle with air quality too.
As first revealed by Politico, a handful of German cities suffering from poor air quality may soon get free public transportation – along with other measures – to deal with the problem, if the relevant German authorities give the go ahead.
A letter outlining the ideas – signed by various members of the German government, including the German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks – was sent to Karmenu Vella, the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs, and Fisheries.
In it, the signatories have suggested low-emissions zones, free public transportation in order to reduce the amount of personal car use, additional economic incentives for electric cars, as well as retrofitting current vehicles with emission dampeners. The promotion of car sharing schemes is also suggested as an option.
According to the Telegraph, five cities – Bonn, Essen, Herrenberg, Reutlingen, and Mannheim – have been lined up as test subjects for the yet-to-be-approved trials, which are hoped to commence at the end of the year at the latest. If successful at improving air quality, the scheme would be rolled out to other cities also suffering from air pollution.
As pointed out by the AFP, Berlin, like plenty of other EU cities, is having some difficulty when it comes to meeting the EU’s air pollution targets. If it fails to do so, Germany could be heavily fined via European courts, along with several other EU members – including the UK, Spain, Italy, and France.
London, another city struggling with air pollution, is likely to take similar measures to draw down its hazardously high levels of toxic aerosols and particulate matter. Its mayor, Sadiq Khan, has proposed setting up “ultra-low emission zones” by 2019, which will charge vehicles high fees for driving through much of the city center, whenever they venture into it.