Rome, Milan, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Madrid, London, Brussels, Paris. In that order, these are the European cities with the highest level of pollution. The particles emitted by cars, especially diesel engines, and some factories, are the main causes of polluted air in cities. Closing the list are Berlin and Copenhagen, examples of how to deal with this serious environmental problem.
The list has been created by a group of environmental organizations belonging to the European Bureau of the Environment (BEE). Policy makers in European cities are obliged to implement measures with the aim of improving air quality and lowering the limits for certain pollutants. Obligation that they do not fulfill, in most cases.
In the most contaminated, the average life expectancy is reduced by more than two years. For Europe as a whole, there are almost half a million premature deaths a year from city air pollution. In economic terms, the cost of the health problems it causes is estimated at between 277 and 790 million euros per year.
The biggest problem
The biggest problem is that this will continue as, according to the study, local governments do nothing about it. Transportation is the aspect that contributes the most to global emissions of NOx (69.1%) and PM10 (71%) gases. However, cities like Madrid still do not have a low-emission zone, vehicle access tolls to the center or other similar measures. The study does recognize that it has a good public transport system (so, in this case, if it is not used, citizens should be blamed), although it should be noted that only Düsseldorf, of all cities, suspends in that aspect. It also has a good parking strategy (which actually encourages car use). Contradictory policy.
For its part, London, the city where the 2012 Olympic Games were held, also fails in this eternal pending subject of many large European cities. The 17 cities analyzed what measures they had taken to reduce the particles most harmful to human health between 2005 and 2010, when Europe’s new limits on PM10 came into force.
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