In recent years, European cities have come to realize that allowing pollution to loom overhead is not sustainable for Europe’s future. Joining other cities, the Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi announced earlier this week her plans to effectively ban diesel-powered cars in the Italian capital by the year 2024 in an effort to curb pollution.
This past Tuesday, Raggi announced the decision on her Facebook page to ban diesel within six years’ time. In 2017, approximately two thirds of the 1.8 million cars that were sold in Italy were diesel-powered, according to the industry’s statistics. Raggi’s decision comes amid rising concerns about the city’s numerous open-air artefacts and historical landmarks that have come under threat due to the increasingly polluted air in the capital. “If we want to intervene seriously, we have to have the courage to adopt strong measures,” said Raggi.
In 2012, Italy had the highest number of pollution-related deaths in all of continental Europe. According to estimates by the European Environment Agency (EEA), approximately 84,000 deaths in Italy during the year 2012 were attributed to pollution. At the time, the city was shrouded in smog, instigating an anti-smog campaign that the City had rolled out to reduce the pollution overhead.
Alongside the world renowned Colosseo, Rome is home to approximately 3,600 stone monuments and 60 bronze statues scattered across the city. Rome’s pollution, however, has not even spared these relics of one of the greatest civilizations in history. Ahead of celebrations marking the new millenium in the year 2000, the city attempted to restore parts of the St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican that had become darker as a result of the pollution in the air. But despite the restoration effort, the facade was darkened once again because of the airborne toxins.
The City has tried reducing pollution in the air in years past through anti-pollution schemes, to no avail, however. In one attempt, the city enforced rotations for cars permitted to drive in the city based on whether the last number on their license plate is odd or even. Drivers, however, have found a way to circumvent the scheme by buying, alongside their primary car, a used car with a license plate ending in different number. It also doesn’t help that law enforcement is lax with the scheme and barely enforce it, if at all.
Interestingly enough, Italy, unlike its European counterparts, does not have any major industries that significantly contribute to the country’s looming air pollution. This means that almost the entirety of Italy’s pollution is caused by vehicles. Other European cities are also trying to address the damage diesel-powered cars have caused to European air quality. In Germany, legislation is in motion to hold auto-tycoons accountable for the damage while Spain is working on making the capital Madrid a green city in coming years.