Nitrogen Oxides: Free Ride for Yellow Vests?

Because the limit values ​​for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) at measuring stations in many German cities have long been exceeded, diesel bans are now increasing. Since then, there has been a dispute over the guidelines and their meaning. Among other Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) considers the limits too low, he wants to re-discuss them at EU level. Since the regulations are valid throughout the EU: how big is the problem in other big cities like Paris, Madrid, Rome? How seriously do you take the limits there? Impressions of our correspondents

In Italy Media are looking for terms such as nitrogen oxide and abbreviations such as NOx or NO2 in vain. Elsewhere in Europe, there may be a lot of discussion about diesel driving bans and speed limits – south of the Alps these questions are not an issue.

In Italy, there are more than 37 million vehicles with 60 million inhabitants. On average, the vehicles are eleven years old and half of them run on diesel engines. With the new registrations, the diesel even comes to 56 percent. And 1.5 million vehicles of the oldest emission standard Euro 0 are still on the roads of the country.

Although the measuring stations register in Rome, Milan or Turin also the NO2 values ​​everywhere, although the citizens on the meteo websites can inform themselves about the daily nitric oxide pollution – but almost no one does it. The only ones who see a problem with the air are small environmental initiatives.

In February 2018, the citizens of Luft together with the association Save the cyclists – Rome in all quarters of Rome conducted a month long measurements. The shocking result: In many places, the limit of 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air was continuously exceeded, even reaching values ​​of 90 micrograms. In parallel, measurements were taken in Milan carried out, which came to very similar results.

But in the public debate, the topic hardly played a role. Only a few local newspapers reported on it at all, and only one day after the publication of the results of the measurement, the topic seemed to have already been forgotten, without even a single environmental politician of the country had a say.

But at least a little is happening in the biggest cities. In the year 2019, Rome intends to introduce a complete driving ban in the city center and the immediately adjacent districts for all diesel vehicles up to the Euro 3 emissions standard. From 2024 diesel vehicles are to be completely banned from the city, as the mayor Virginia Raggi from the ranks of the five-star movement announced a year ago. Milan is not in such a hurry. There are the diesel out of the city in 2030 only.

Michael Braun, Rome

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