In a bid to cut traffic emissions by 30 percent over the next 15 years, Barcelona’s authorities will ban vehicles older than 20 years from the roads on working days.
The joint initiative measure was signed between the city council, Catalan Government and other metropolitan bodies, TheGuardian reports, and it will cover Barcelona and 39 surrounding municipalities.
It will become effective starting on January 1, 2019, and will affect cars made before January 1997 and vans registered up to October 1994. These include approximately 106,000 (7 percent) and 22,000 (16 percent) vehicles, respectively.
Additionally, local authorities will be able to ban these cars from the roads starting on December 1, 2017, during levels of high pollution.
“[The goal] is to reduce emissions by 10 percent over the next five years, to gradually reach the levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), and accelerate the adoption of more intensive local measures in order to reach the levels set by the EU before 2020“, the city’s council declared earlier this week.
Their fight against air pollution, which causes about 3,500 premature deaths locally each year, is supported by locals.
“The people of Barcelona have told us clearly in surveys that they want to fight against air pollution because it is a health problem of the first order“, added the city’s deputy mayor for the environment, urban planning and transport, Janet Sanz.
As an alternative, residents of Barcelona and the 39 surrounding municipalities who give up their vehicles will benefit from free public transport.
Madrid, Paris, Athens and Mexico City took similar measures, at the end of last year, and will ban diesel cars from entering the center of the cities by 2025.
Their actions are supported by the WHO, which says that one in four deaths among children under 5 is caused by toxic air, unsafe water and the lack of sanitation.